The representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Misnk have commented on the detention of U.S. and Belarusian citizen Yuri Zenkovich.
The diplomats did not answer specific questions about how the embassy assesses the detention of a U.S. citizen by the Belarusian special services and whether the consul has already visited Zenkovich in the KGB pre-trial detention centre. The embassy only stressed that they are always ready to provide consular services in the event of the arrest of an American citizen.
“We saw reports in the media about the detention of a U.S. citizen in Minsk. In each case of the arrest or detention of a U.S. citizen abroad, we are ready to provide all the necessary consular services. One of the most important tasks of the Department of State, U.S. Embassies and Consulates is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens who are imprisoned or detained abroad. According to the current practice, we do not transfer information about U.S. citizens without their written consent,” Tim O’Connor, press attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Belarus, told TUT.BY.
Recall that Yuri Zenkovich was reportedly detained in Moscow on 13 April. According to his wife Elena Denisovets, he was literally kidnapped from a Russian hotel. On the same day, the KGB reported on the arrest of Grigory Kostusev and Alexander Feduta on “immediate suspicion of committing a crime.” Alexander Feduta, like Zenkovich, was detained in Moscow.
“He said that he could not give details. But in Moscow, during his detention, he was told that he is suspected of terrorism. I tried to find out what the Belarusian special services were doing in the neighbouring country and what right they had to detain a U.S. citizen there,” said Denisovets.
Through a lawyer, Zenkovich told his wife to turn off his devices. During the arrest, he had a laptop and two mobile phones that were confiscated. Elena Denisovets also said that, besides Moscow, her husband was going to Warsaw on a business trip. She also confirmed that he is familiar with detained political scientist Alexander Feduta, but does not know if they planned to meet.
“He understood the danger, but he said that he will be in Moscow, another country, nothing terrible will happen. As a result, he was illegally taken to Belarus by force. This is not recorded anywhere. It is a scandal that a U.S. citizen has been kidnapped in another country. I have already been contacted by the U.S. Embassy in Minsk. The diplomat will try to meet with him,” added Denisovets.
Lawyer Yuri Zenkovich has Belarusian and American citizenships. In Belarus, Zenkovich was an opposition activist, a well-known member of the Belarusian Popular Front. He left for the U.S. in the mid-2000s, where he began to build his career as a lawyer. Zenkovich’s wife told the media that according to his lawyer, the man is a suspect in some case, but did not name a specific article.