Defense ministry claims that campaign is being waged to discredit Armed Forces

The defense ministry has claimed that a campaign is being waged to discredit the Belarusian Armed Forces following the recent death of a conscript soldier in a military unit near Barysaw.

Минобороны: Вокруг гибели солдата в Печах развернута кампания по дискредитации армии
Belarusian Defense Minister Andrey Rawkow

Private Alyaksandr Korzhych, a 21-year-old native of Pinsk, Brest region, was found hanged on the grounds of the Belarusian Armed Forces’ 72nd United Training Center in Pechy near Barysaw, Minsk region, on October 3.

Authorities initially said that a preliminary investigation found no signs of foul play and yielded evidence suggesting that the soldier committed suicide, but the recruit’s family and friends insist that he was murdered. They say that he had repeatedly complained before his death about bullying.

The death of the soldier, who was called up for military service this past spring, caused a strong emotional reaction on social media.

An online petition demanding the dismissal of Defense Minister Andrey Rawkow in connection with the incident was signed by more than 10,000 people in the first 48 hours.
Zvarot.by, the website where signatures were being collected for the petition, has been blocked on the initiative of the defense ministry, the press office of the ministry announced on Saturday.

After the ministry found that a large number of messages demanding the resignation of the defense minister had been sent from one email address and notified SpamCop, an email spam reporting service, of this, SpamCop contacted the provider of hosting services for Zvarot.by, as a result of which the website was blocked, the press office said.

In addition, a probe found that many messages received at the email address of the defense ministry were sent from non-existent email addresses, the press office said, concluding that the death of the soldier was being used to “wage a purposeful campaign to discredit the Armed Forces on the basis of rumors and speculation.”

However, rumors spread through social media were eventually confirmed by the Investigative Committee. In particular, Syarhey Kabakovich, spokesman for the Committee, confirmed on Friday that Alyaksandr Korzhych was found hanged with a cloth belt, with an undershirt pulled over his head and his feet tied together with shoe strings.