The new chief of Belarus’ security service, the KGB, has a Lithuanian connection. Ivan Tertel went to school in southern Lithuania, the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports.
Tertel was appointed the head of the KGB – the State Security Committee of Belarus – last week, unexpectedly replacing Valery Vakulchik in the position.
Tertel comes from the small village of Privalka in the Hrodna Region of northwestern Belarus. The village is located near the border with Poland and Lithuania.
For a while, he attended school in Druskininkai, a town in southern Lithuania just across the border and some 10 kilometres from Privalka.
After graduating, Tertel studied at the elite Higher Paratrooper Command Academy in Ryazan and went on to serve in the 106th Airborne Division of the Soviet armed forces.
Following the collapse of the USSR, Tertel returned to Belarus and began service at the country’s border guard. He entered the KGB in 2008 as a deputy for Vadim Zaitsev and was soon promoted to general.
In 2011, Tertel was among the officials blacklisted by the EU for his involvement in crackdowns against President Alexander Lukashenko’s opponents.
During the recent presidential campaign in Belarus, Tertel was appointed to head the State Control Committee which oversees financial institutions. Specifically, he was to investigate Belgazprombank – its former head Viktar Babaryka was running against Lukashenko in the presidential election.
Babaryka was subsequently jailed and Belgazprombank put under new management appointed by Lukashenko.
Tertel was appointed to head the KGB as the agency is involved in suppression of mass protests against Lukashenko.