Maksim Makhankou, a student of the Higher State College of Communications, reports about pressure from the KGB.
The incident took place after he returned from Poland, where he took part in a programme of a Ukrainian NGO. Maksim Makhankou studies telecommunications engineering at the Higher State College of Communications in Minsk. Besides education, the Belarusian-speaking student is interested in activism. Maksim found the programme Civic Engagement Workshop that helps find and implement an idea that would be interesting for society, Radio Svaboda reports.
The student visited the seminar in Polish Gdynia that was organised by the Ukrainian Network of Adult Education and Development of Innovations with the help of Polish and European organisations. Maksim chose the project he would like to work on, returned to Minsk and began to collect information for the research, when he received a telephone call. A man introduced himself as a KGB agent and demanded to meet. At the meeting, he showed his KGB card and told Maksim the coordinator of the seminar allegedly was an agent of the Polish secret services and was banned from entering Belarus.
The student told journalists about his reaction to the news: “I then said I didn't want to get involved in it and had better stop participating in the programme. The man insisted that I should participate in the programme, because it is very important, and report everything to them, because the next stage of the programme will be held in Belarus. I again refused to cooperate with the man and the organisation he represents. He then began to press on me.”
According to Maksim, the KGB officer threatened he would have problems at the hall of residence. Maksim says he really faced problems later: “I was called to the council of the residence hall. They had sanitary complaints, though my room was always good and had high marks. They found faults with a calendar dedicated to the anniversary of the Battle of Orsha and a political map of Europe, an ordinary map, on the wall in my room. I had the impression that they were looking to any ground to press on me.”
The preventive care council had a meeting at the hall of residence, where Maksim lives, on June 17. Maksim says other students defended him and voted against taking sanctions against him. Does it mean the pressure on the student was not caused by his social activity? Supervisor of hall of residence No. 2 Hanna Antanovich, who was present at the council meeting, refused to talk about the activist with journalists.
“Discuss everything with him,” Antanovich said and hung up.
Maksim Makhankou said he wanted to stop his participation in the programme, but later changed his mind. The second stage if the programme will be held in late July. The student prepares a report “Peculiarities of the revival of Slavic cultures in the 19th century”.