Belarusian exiles in Poland are training for a future armed insurrection in their home nation, The Times has claimed. The militants may also “play a key role” in the Ukraine conflict, according to the British newspaper.
The report on Sunday focused on a camp near the Polish city of Poznan operated by Bypol – the “group of former officers from Belarus’ security services” who fled the country following protests in 2020. Similar combat training sessions have been taking place in the NATO nation for months, with the number of recruits “in the hundreds,” Bypol’s leadership claims.
The Times described the recruits at the boot camp as common Belarusians, who want to topple the government of President Alexander Lukashenko in response to a “Stalinesque campaign of torture and detention [that] has all but silenced dissent” in the country.
Following the 2020 presidential election, Belarus saw mass protests against Lukashenko’s new term, with people claiming that the poll had been rigged to deprive opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya of victory. Tikhanovskaya has since been treated as a representative of the Belarusian people by the US and its allies, and is currently based in Lithuania.
Bypol claims to have carried out several combat missions on Belarusian soil, including a drone attack on a Russian A-50 airborne radar at Machulishchy air base near Minsk.
Lukashenko said the attackers involved in the February incident had been recruited by Kiev special services and branded his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, “scum” for presumably consenting to the operation.
The Belarusian government claimed it was closely monitoring Bypol’s activities, including their training camps located in Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.
“We know particular recruitment posts; know who is involved. We know the training camps, the identities of instructors, who teaches which parts of the course,” Belarus’ security chief Ivan Tertel claimed in April.
The group is using terrorist tactics to pave the way for an insurrection in Belarus and acts as a tool of foreign states, the senior official said. The same masterminds “are the driving forces in terms of geopolitical problems that our neighbors have,” he added.