MINSK, November 19 (RIA Novosti) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday he fired the country’s KGB chief over an “unhealthy moral and psychological atmosphere” in the state security body.
The Belarusian strongman fired Vadim Zaitsev last week and replaced him with Valery Vakulchik, former head of the country’s Investigative Committee.
Lukashenko, who has come under heavy criticism from both the West and activists at home for what they say is his dictatorial and oppressive leadership, said on Monday while introducing Vakulchik that his decision was based on shortcomings in the organizational and ideological aspects of the agency.
He also said the body’s personal security had been “skewed.”
The comments arrive on the heels of the recent suicide of Lt. Col. Alexander Kazak, a high-ranking official in the Belarusian KGB.
Lukashenko added that the lower and middle echelons of the security body had signaled to him that the climate in the KGB, which retains its Soviet-era name, was poor.
“I heard their voices,” Lukashenko said.
Critics have accused the Belarusian KGB of waging a campaign against political dissidents and pro-democracy activists under Lukashenko’s orders.
“Remember, we have many enemies,” Lukashenko said. “We must fight them ruthlessly.”