Financiers of the Belarusian Dictator

Protests in Belarus continue, and opposition leaders mostly fled from the country, are busy calculating and looking for funds that the Belarusian dictator Lukashenko annually withdraws from the budget of his Republic. Meanwhile, information about the wealth of his family is almost on the surface, and the enrichment scheme of the Lukashenko clan has been worked out a long time ago, even with other Presidents…

Lukashenko’s eldest son, 45-year-old Viktor, a member of the Security Council of Belarus, the head of the country’s Olympic Committee has long been known in the republic not only as a likely successor to his father, but also as the main financier of the current head of state. His wife Lilia is one of the directors of the art gallery of the Dana Holdings group shopping center in Minsk. However, according to the Belarusian oppositionists, its real role has nothing to do with art. According to the Belarusian oppositionist Valeriy Tsepkalo, quoted by EU observer, “the art, which she definitely knows perfectly well, is to make money for Alexander Lukashenko, making huge concessions to his pet enterprises”.

Image source: NBC News

According to the last dictator of Europe, Dana Holdings, which is based in Minsk: “Is one of the most successful and, probably, the richest company in the world, which creates a miracle – wonderful samples of the construction industry.” The owners of the company, Serbian businessmen Bogoljub and Dragomir Karic, are the largest developers in Belarus. Among the implemented projects is the Mayak Minska complex near the National Library, which includes the same shopping center with an art gallery where Lilia Lukashenko works. By the decree of Alexander Lukashenko himself, the Serbs, out of competition, were allocated a huge territory of the former airport for the construction of the Minsk-Mir complex, a capsule in the foundation of which the Belarusian dictator laid down together with the President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic. Separately, it is worth mentioning the office complex “BK Capital Center” in one of the central squares of Minsk, completed after the Belarusian protests in 2020, on the facade of which the coat of arms of the Karic family is depicted, and the abbreviation BK is deciphered by Minskers as “Brothers Karic”.

Even organizations loyal to Lukashenko opposed the last project. Thus, the Belarusian Union of Architects asked the Ministry of Architecture and Construction to arrange hearings on it, but, of course, they were ignored. The protests of the townspeople were also not heard.

Let’s figure out who the Karic`s are and where their wealth and influence come from. The four brothers – Bogoljub, Dragomir, Sreten and Zoran and the formation of their clan began during the reign of the Serbian president  Slobodan Milosevic, after whose fall the brothers, apparently according to long-established schemes, found another patron and business partner – the Belarusian president.

Image source: CNN

So, Bogoljub Karic, for example, was the minister of privatization of Serbia for several months. In 2004, he won 20 percent of the votes in the country’s presidential elections. Later, he was accused of financial fraud, as a result of which the state suffered more than 40 million euros in damage, and the authorities issued an international arrest warrant, but Bogoljub had left Serbia by that time and soon settled in Belarus. Obviously, his experience was useful to a new customer. Moreover, despite the fact that the investigation about Bogoljub Karic was stopped in Serbia only in 2016 (and was marked by his triumphant return to Belgrade), back in 2009 his brother Dragomir arranged a visit to Serbia for the Belarusian dictator, who was in partial political isolation.

After publications in the EU Observer, the management of the Dana Holdings group did not find anything better than to disown Lilia Lukashenko, stating that she was a simple designer and did not return to work at Dana Astra after she went on maternity leave three years ago. However, this did not save the company from European sanctions, which were introduced on December 17, 2020 by the Council of the European Union. However, the sanctions hardly prevented President Lukashenko’s Serbian friends from their financial activities in Cyprus, which, by the way, is the largest investor in the Belarusian economy. Naturally at the expense of offshore companies. However, these sanctions are unlikely to force Cyprus, actually an EU country, to take any decisive measures. So, according to Valery Tsepkalo, who until 2017 was in charge of high-tech parks in the Republic of Belarus, Cyprus tax incentives and offshore companies allowed Lukashenko to launder more than $ 1 billion. Considering that Tsepkalo himself stood at the origins of Belarusian IT and worked closely with Belarusian development companies, he knows what he is talking about. Nevertheless, even the “EU Observer”, although it indicated the schemes of enrichment of the Lukashenko family, cannot find where the huge funds of the ruling clan of Belarus ended up … yet.

Nothing much has changed since December 2020, when Dana Holdings group was under European sanctions. Protests in Belarus are dying down, the EU could not or did not want to take measures that could really decisively hit the dictator.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Slavisha Batko Milacic

Independent analyst

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