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Luka-leaks

by Joseph W

Two days after Israel Shamir’s meeting with Belarussian officials, Radio Free Europe reported:

At a press conference today, during which the hardline ruler voiced no remorse for ordering police to beat protesters during post-election demonstrations, Lukashenka announced the upcoming publication of classified documents that he says will demonstrate the nature of interactions between the Belarusian opposition and the West.

Russian news agencies quoted him as saying, “We’re simply going to publish certain documents. We’ll see how those who are published on the Belarusian WikiLeaks site — the supporters [of the opposition] and those who are working behind the scenes — react to this.”

“We will publish all the documents that should be classified in the archives as ‘secret.’ These are historically important events,” he said.

That really should have concerned Wikileaks. Wikileaks should have condemned Lukashenko’s project and distanced itself from Israel Shamir. Instead, Julian Assange just said there was no reason to believe “rumours” about Shamir’s actions in Belarus.

Via Russia Today, news of Lukashenko’s finished “Wikileaks” project:

Belarus’s state daily has published declassified documents according to which the West was planning a coup in the country after the presidential election on December 19.

On Friday, “Sovetskaya Belorussiya” (Soviet Belarus), under Lukashenko’s order, started to publish declassified documents referring to the mass riots that took place after the election which scored President Aleksandr Lukashenko a fourth term in office. The article is called “Behind the scenes of a plot. Officially Declassified Evidence of the Events on December 19.”

The daily accuses Western countries, Germany and Poland in particular, of sponsoring Belarusian opposition and planning a “color revolution” in Belarus which would bring to power a puppet leader.

This is totally unsurprising.

Yet Lukashenko can now boast some genuine Wikileaks credibility, given that Wikileaks’ rep came to Minsk and claimed the cables revealed ties between the democratic opposition in Belarus and the USA (a false claim).

But how does Lukashenko have secret documents relating to December 19th 2010 in Belarus? After all, Shamir’s cables only go up to December 2009. Who gave Lukashenko the low-down on the December 2010 elections?

Russia Today explains:

As evidence to support the statements, the paper cites extracts of documents confiscated from the “Tell the Truth” civic campaign, led by former presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev.

According to these documents, the tasks of the movement’s strategy include supporting a presidential candidate who would ensure the constitutional system of Belarus and form a parliamentary-presidential republic within a year after the vote.

So, Lukashenko stole the documents from a leading opposition figure called Neklyaev.

How?

PEN International reported in May:

Vladimir Neklyayev, age 63, a poet and author, is the leader of the organisation ‘Speak the Truth’, set up in February this year. From 2005 to 2009, he was also President of the Belarus PEN Centre, of which he remains a member. On 18 May, police descended on the homes of members of this and other civil society groups in several cities across the country, including the ‘Speak the Truth’ head office in Minsk. Reportedly wearing bullet proof vests and carrying machine guns, the officers seized computers, mobile phones, memory sticks, books and leaflets, and scores of people were arrested. Three, including Neklyayev, remain detained charged under Article 250 of the Criminal Code for “dissemination of false information”. Also detained are Andrei Dmitriyev, a leader of the opposition United Civil Party, and Sergei Voznyak, editor of the opposition newspaper Tovarishch.

A “Speak the Truth” activist told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he believed that the raids are aimed at intimidating opposition groups in advance presidential elections that must take place before February 2011.

Just as the Speak the Truth activist feared, this is exactly what has come to pass.

Lukashenko has illegally robbed a political adversary of private documents, and is now using these documents to “expose” their author. Lukashenko has done all this to somehow justify his own “re-election”.

Indeed, Nekliaev was again arrested 20th December due to his popularity and outspoken, brave rhetoric as an opposition leader.

It is evident now why Lukashenko invited Shamir to Minsk to speak with his officials and observe elections.

One reason – it appears – was to gain access to private, unredacted US diplomatic cables.

FastCompany has now challenged Shamir on this:

Contacted by email by Fast Company, Shamir gave his reasoning in releasing unredacted cables that hinted at the names of State Department sources and presumably put them at risk: “Handing confidential and secret information to everybody is the thing of Wikileaks. That’s what it is about. Your question is like asking police why they catch thieves. That is what they are for.”

Shamir’s personal website also contains the claim that “we also hand confidential information to everybody without discrimination.”

The other reason is becoming increasingly clearer:  Lukashenko invited Shamir to Belarus to get some ideas about how to best present his “leaks” to a watching world, and gain some bona-fide WikiLeaks credibility just weeks before publishing his own Luka-leaks.

Julian Assange – do you still believe this is all “rumours”?