Belarus is the first country in the world to lose its independence despite the guarantees of the Budapest Memorandum, to which it is also a party. The Minsk negotiation process has been going on in the Kremlin-occupied Belarus for several years now. But all this against the background of the fact that the headquarters of the Lukashenko regime in the Crimea – the Koreiz sanatorium “Belorussia” did not become the object of a proper legal reaction of Ukraine.

It all began 26 years ago, when on December 5, 1994 at the OSCE summit in Budapest, the leaders of three countries – Bill Clinton (USA), John Major (UK) and Boris Yeltsin (Russia) signed a Memorandum of Security in connection with the accession of Belarus to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. These states undertook to guarantee the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Belarus [1].

It is significant that China, which also had nuclear weapons, then refrained from participating in the Memorandum, limiting itself to a statement. And after 2014, bypassing the sanctions, China is actively seizing Crimean lands for growing vegetables on special chemicals [5], and is also trying to establish control over strategic objects of the Belarusian economy [6].

By the way, Belarusians first applied to the Memorandum at the international level in 2007. Leaders of the campaign “Belarus – to the Council of Europe!” I. Ledovyk, I. Kozulin, Y. Karetnikov, P. Krasovsky, V. Sivchyk, I. Rynkevich then declared the following, regarding the Memorandum, 1994: “In connection with the intensification of political repressions, anti-national domestic and foreign policy of the ruling regime of Belarus, campaign activists called on UN Security Council member states, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, to urgently consider the issue of national security and sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus [1]”.

The campaigns called on the UN Security Council member states, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, to urgently consider the issue of national security and sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus. Unfortunately, the actions of Western democracies against Alexander Lukashenko were then insufficient, which, among other things, gave Russia additional confidence in its impunity during the aggression against Ukraine in 2014.

Reserve of Belarusian socialism in the Crimea

Former mansions of the nobility on the Myskhor descent of the Yalta Koreiz village turned into a sanatorium “Belorussia” in the 50s of the twentieth century due to the reorganization of Alupka sanatorium “Mountain Sun”. The new health resort was officially transferred to the ownership of the Byelorussian SSR. From 1991 to 1999, the sanatorium actually operated illegally, being in Ukraine and considering itself the property of Belarus as the legal successor of the Byelorussian SSR, the institution did not have the entire set of title documents. Without public mention of any high-ranking interference in 1999, the Yalta City Council’s Justice Department quietly registered “Belorussia” as a state-owned sanatorium, recognizing Belarus’ state ownership of this health resort. Then Vladimir Marchenko, the protege of President Leonid Kuchma, who signed the Budapest Memorandum, was the mayor of Yalta.

Thus began the work of the sanatorium “Belorussia” in the Ukrainian legal field. Officially, the sanatorium positioned itself as rthe health resort that rehabilitates victims of the Chernobyl accident, and unofficially it was the headquarters of the Lukashenko’s regime in the Crimea. This is due to the subordination of the sanatorium “Belorussia” as a unit of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus (“UDP”), as a personal Lukashenko’s business corporation. “UDP” in Belarus is engaged in almost everything – tourism, resort business, along with sanatoriums, nature reserves, lotteries, duty-free supplies of imported alcohol, tobacco products, oil trade, construction [2]. “UDP” as of 2020 is the business-empire with billions of dollars in assets and turnover.

Only Yuriy and Oleksiy Khotyna, the “owners of Lukashenko’s commoner”, compete with the “UDP” in terms of power, and the Russian secret services arrange for them to be “thrown” into the media when they need to “push” the Lukashenko’s regime. Then journalists often write that the entire State Security Committee (KGB) of Belarus works to protect personal wealth (according to various estimates, from 9 to 18 billion dollars), while “making a mistake”. As there is in fact no separate KGB in Belarus, but the second largest KGB school in Minsk after the Russian Samara KGB school, whose graduates and partners are an important element in the Kremlin’s transnational criminal business and its think tank in Russia’s imperial intelligence services.

Examining the issue of “Belorussia” as a structure of the “UDP”, we must not forget the specifics of Yalta, where events took place on a global scale, such as the 1945 WWII Conference and the “captivity” of Mikhail Gorbachev in Foros in 1991, which prompted the collapse of the USSR. For decades, all the Soviet and post-Soviet elite rested in Greater Yalta, there are cottages for most politicians and businessmen, there are sanatoriums of the largest corporations from all over the post-Soviet space. In Yalta, many important issues were resolved behind the scenes for decades, and only a small part of such decisions became known to the public.

That is why the “Belorussia” sanatorium is the headquarters of the Lukashenko regime in Crimea, a platform for its participation in backstage talks. Especially since the Crimean gangsters, controlled by the Russian special services, play the important role in the transit of weapons, drugs and oil products. And arms trade on the “black market” through his “wallet” Vladimir Peftiev was one of the main sources of profits for Alexander Lukashenko for many years. In addition, since 2012, it has become the “joint business” of the Lukashenko clan’s member and intelligence officer Dmitry Gurinovich [4].

Miskhor criminal activities

Alexander Lukashenko’s regime does not publicly recognize Crimea as “Russian”, but behind the scenes it directly favors the occupiers. In 2015, the sanatorium “Belorussia” in Miskhor (as a part of the Koreiz village) was officially registered in the Russian registers under the name “Sanatorium Belorussia” [7]. After that, the sanatorium immediately won several tenders for 12.8 million rubles from Russian government agencies – the Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Government of Moscow, JSC “Transneft – Central Siberia”, as from the “Sevastopol District Court” [7], for such activities were taxes paid to the budget of the Russian Federation. What is happening in “Belorussia” is the receipt of illegal profits in the occupied territory of Ukraine and direct interaction with the occupiers contrary to international law.

At the same time, for example, the sanatorium “Belorussia” for several years owes to the State Budget of Ukraine 33 thousand dollars, which no one naturally wants to pay “on principle” [8]. More, for example, Belarusian officials have repeatedly tried to open the illegal passenger bus route to the occupied Crimea. According to the statistics of the occupiers, in 2018-2019 Belarus ranked first among third countries (excluding Ukraine and the occupying State) in terms of trade with the Crimea, which covered various areas, from railway structures to honey.

With the beginning of the occupation of Crimea, Belarus got the part of the peninsula consumer food market, confiscated by Russian illegal authorities from Ukrainian producers. Since Belarusian food is a little tastier than Russian, they became very popular among locals after the reduction of Ukrainian products. And it was in the sanatorium “Belorussia” that local issues concerning the distribution of Belarusian milk products, cosmetics and other goods in the Crimean markets and supermarkets were tacitly resolved. That is why in the sanatorium “Belorussia” much more often saw not “profile” disabled Chernobyl victims, but controlled by the Lukashenko regime businessmen and faceless Belarusian KGB officers.

It is worth mentioning the “Third Tourist Forum “Open Crimea””, held by the occupiers in Autumn 2016 in Yalta. This was an important propaganda event for the Russians, in which the Kremlin created the illusion for “internal usage” that Russia had allegedly “no international isolation” through Crimea. That part of the events of the “forum” took place on the territory of the sanatorium “Belorussia” in Miskhor, where these events were commanded by the “Minister of Resorts and Tourism of Republic of Crimea” Sergei Strelbytsky. Delegations of amusing “foreign businessmen” came to the sanatorium, after which the “Head of Crimea” Sergey Aksyonov made a statement that investors from China, Iran, India and Kazakhstan came to Crimea [8]. In fact, no guests from India appeared at that “forum” at all, and no more or less “official investment projects” with the participation of business or government of China, Iran and Kazakhstan in 2016-2020 were implemented in the Crimea.

But, in addition to the picture on the “forum”, the “Head of Crimea” and his people from the clan “Seylem” still agreed with imported foreigners to cooperate in the format of “black market”, after which the Crimea began to illegally enter goods from China, Iran and Kazakhstan, with a “kickback” personally to Sergei Aksyonov, as well as for the income of the “Head of the Crimea” and the “Seylem” commoner, in these countries began to be smuggled some goods from the Crimea (herbs, essential oils, elements of stolen Ukrainian infrastructure). Lukashenko’s group also took the opportunity to establish additional illegal contacts, taking into account the Crimean nuances at that “forum”.

In addition, the sanatorium “Belorussia” perfectly fit into the Russian bandit economic model. The money of the Belarusian budget is regularly stolen there according to the classic scheme with kickbacks. For example, the sanatorium “Belorussia” ordered the company “Vega-C” from Yessentuki with a share capital of ten thousand rubles to repair the fence, these Essentuki dealers did something for the look, gave the director of the sanatorium “kickback” and disappeared.

To disguise the “scheme”, the sanatorium received in the Court of Stavropol deliberately unfeasible decision, according to which “Vega-C” owes him 228 thousand rubles [9]. Of course, this amount is not significant, but there are many similar “lawsuits” with dubious Russian companies in “Belorussia”. It should be added that the existing sanatoriums of the “UDP” of Belarus in the Russian Caucasus in general are constantly “sued” for thousands of sums [10], which, according to some experts, may be a joint business of “cashback” for Alexander Lukashenko and Ramzan Kadyrov. It should be noted that Alexander Lukashenko has awarded Kadyrov the highest Belarusian state awards repeatedly [11].

Understanding what is the real significance of the  Belarus sanatorium in Crimea for the Lukashenko’s regime is a powerful tool for Ukraine in the struggle for its territories. Moreover, Alexander Lukashenko is no longer the legitimate president, so the issue of the illegal Crimean business under his control and the laundering of Belarusian budget money cannot be silenced during transition of Belarus to a new democratic government.

Eugene Gaivoronsky. Yalta-Kiev