Murder of CEC member: new investigative system at work
On August 8th, Belarus learned about the tragic death of Central Election Commission member, 54-year-old Svetlana Khinevich. On August 4th, she was found dead in her apartment with multiple stabs.
The investigation into Khinevich murder is carried out exclusively by the two newly created law enforcement agencies - the Investigative Committee and the State Committee for Forensic Examinations. Belarus’ oldest law enforcement agency - Internal Affairs Ministry - was excluded from the inquest.
The murder case of Svetlana Khinevich demonstrates the new law enforcement system’s capabilities. The Investigative Committee was founded in 2012, and the State Committee for Forensic Examination in July 2013. Investigation and forensic expertise departments were dissolved in the country’s oldest law enforcement agency - MIA.
Svetlana Khinevich worked as Personnel Department Head at the Minsk-based ‘Crystal’ Plant and was a Central Elections Commission member. Before 2011, she worked as Personnel and Ideology Head at the President Administration Management of Affairs Chief Economic Management Directorate.
Investigative Committee representative said that the murder was a domestic violence case, unrelated to her professional and social activities. The suspect, a drug addict man, was detained and examined.
The criminal investigation into the Khinevich murder was instituted by the Investigative Committee and the State Committee for Forensic Examination conducted the forensic expertise. Both agencies were set up by President Lukashenko and managed by descendants from the Prosecutor’s Office, not from the Interior Ministry. Through these agencies the ruling group has strengthened the control over pre-trial investigation in general and in this particular case.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.