Former officer with the Belarusian spec-ops forces Igor Makar who has recently made public audio recordings alleging the involvement of the Belarusian top security leadership in the elimination of political dissidents, including the assassination in a car blast in Kyiv of journalist Pavel Sheremet, says he is ready to testify at the Office of Ukraine's Prosecutor General.
"We did everything to make it public, and most importantly, to complete the investigation of this crime and prove that the Belarus special services were complicit. I handed over the recordings around December. There was no official questioning, but today Ukrainian special services contacted me. I spoke with them and gave my consent to cooperate. I will be ready to testify at the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine," he told the Suspilne public broadcaster.
Makar said he was supposed to fly to Kyiv, while no exact date has been set so far since it depends on Ukraine's security services.
Read alsoSheremet murder trial: Court leaves Antonenko behind bars"The situation with the COVID-19 is very bad now, so everything depends on them and, apparently, on the investigation. When there is such a need or there are some facts, of course, I will notify them, and when the Ukrainian side is ready for me to arrive and provide evidence, I'm ready," Makar said.
According to him, a person who made the recording of those conversations and with whom ex-KGB head in Belarus in 2008-2012 Vadim Zaitsev was speaking is also ready to testify in the case. Now that anonymous ex-KGB officer, as Makar referred to him, is staying in one of the EU countries.
Makar got hold of the leaked audio back in 2012 from what he calls "anonymous sources" in the Belarusian KGB.
Makar says he heard on tape the name of his friend Oleg Alkaev, former head of the Minsk detention center. After leaving Belarus in 2001, the latter started to criticize President Alexander Lukashenko's regime where he himself had previously been the head of a "firing squad" that dealt with executions. It was Pavel Sheremet who published Alkaev's book in 2007.
Makar said that due to his friend's name being mentioned in leaked communications, he had first handed the recordings to the U.S. intelligence to secure his own life. According to him, ex-commander of the special forces brigade Vladimir Borodach and head of the anti-corruption department at the Belarusian Interior Ministry Vyacheslav Dudkin, whose names also appeared on tape are still alive.
According to the tapes, Russian political scientist Andrei Suzdaltsev also had to be eliminated.
"Now I made the recording public, submitted it for publication on EUobserver. All possible examinations have been made. A phonoscopic examination has been carried out, which confirmed [authenticity]. If necessary, a biometric examination will also be done," he said.
Read alsoSheremet murder: Police probing into recent reports of Belarus KGB plotHe also explained why he hadn't come out with his revelations earlier. Makar believes in this case his life would be under threat, but didn't say why he had not let the recordings see light in the immediate aftermath of Sheremet's murder.
"If I tried to publish it earlier, in 2012, the political situation was totally different. I would sacrifice my life 100%, and we would not hear this recording today. We would not open our eyes to all these crimes that were being plotted, that have been committed, in particular, the murder of Pavel Sheremet."
"Had I published this data in 2016, when Pavel Sheremet was blown up, I think I might have helped people understand the nature of the crime, but today I wouldn't be able to help my Belarusian people to tackle this dictatorial regime that's now in place," he said.
Sheremet murder case: Background
The journalist was assassinated in a car blast in the center of Kyiv on the morning of July 20, 2016.
On December 12, 2019, police said they suspected five persons of complicity in the crime: former Donbas war volunteer and musician Andrii Antonenko, army volunteer and pediatric surgeon Yulia Kuzmenko (nom de guerre "Lysa," or "Fox"), a paratrooper unit's nurse Yana Duhar, and a family couple of army volunteers Inna Hryshchenko ("Puma"), and Vladyslav Hryshchenko ("Bucha"). Law enforcers claim that the culprits aimed to destabilize the social and political situation in Ukraine. Antonenko, Kuzmenko and Duhar were notified of their charges on December 12, 2019.
Ukrainian investigative journalists with the Slidstvo.info project said they had found the forensic analysis report used in the probe into the murder of Sheremet far from being unambiguous, while evidence presented by the police – not convincing. What is more, many Ukrainian activists consider the evidence collected by the investigation to be insufficient.
Leaked audio recordings alleging the involvement of Belarus top security leadership in the elimination of political opponents, including the assassination in a car blast of journalist Pavel Sheremet, were released on Monday, January 4.
The National Police of Ukraine said they had received documents and audio recordings exposing what could be possible masterminds behind Sheremet's murder.