Moment IT worker for US software firm unloads SHOTGUN on Belarus security forces – killing one – before they kill him during violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters
An IT worker for a US software firm has been caught on camera unloading a shotgun on Belarus security forces and killing one before he was gunned down himself amid a violent crackdown of pro-democracy protesters.
Andrei Zeltser, 31, who works for Pennsylvania-based EPAM Systems, resisted arrest during a raid in Minsk and opened fire on the officers, killing one of them, according to the KGB.
They returned fire on the ‘terrorist and he was shot dead during the apartment search.
The Investigative Committee of Belarus, which investigates major crimes, said a 31-year-old man was ‘liquidated with return fire’ after resisting law enforcement officers.
Officers stand outside an apartment in Minsk in preparation for a raid amid a democracy crackdown
There have been reports that Zeltser was a US citizen who was supporting the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, although the US Embassy is yet to confirm his citizenship.
Belarusian authorities have also blocked access to a news site, the latest in a series of steps restricting independent media in the country after it was shaken by a wave of anti-government protests.
The Belarusian Ministry of Information blocked access to the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus website after it ran a story about the shootout.
The news site, the Belarusian subsidiary of a popular Russian newspaper of the same name, published a comment from the opposition supporter’s friend, who described him a positive light.
Andrei Zeltser, who works for EPAM Systems, resisted arrest during a raid in Minsk and opened fire on the officers, killing one of them, according to the KGB
There have been reports that Zeltser was a US citizen who was supporting the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, although the US Embassy is yet to confirm his citizenship
The ministry didn’t provide any reasons for the decision to block the popular website, which is visited by some 20,000 users daily.
Belarusian authorities reported the incident on Tuesday night, alleging that ‘an especially dangerous criminal’ opened fire on security officers after they showed up at his apartment looking for ‘individuals involved in terrorist activities.’
Footage aired by Belarusian state TV channels showed men in plainclothes, trying to break into an apartment.
Authorities said Zeltser’s wife, who was in the apartment at the time, was arrested.
State news agency Belta reported that ‘members of an extremist group with ties to the opposition, supposedly, lived in the apartment.’
They returned fire on the ‘terrorist and he was shot dead during the apartment search
Authorities said Zeltser’s wife, who was in the apartment at the time, was arrested
The US Special Envoy for Belarus, Julie Fisher, said the United States was seeking additional information on whether the victim in the shooting was a U.S. citizen or not.
‘This incident appears to provide further evidence of the regime’s disregard for human rights and its willingness to utilize extreme methods to threaten perceived political opponents, a pattern which is regrettably well-established in Belarus,’ she said in an emailed statement.
The official state news agency Belta reported the man was associated with the opposition movement, citing a lawmaker. The KGB did not identify the man by name or profession but said he was a ‘terrorist’ – language it uses to describe protesters.
‘I can’t say or think anything. I’m shocked, I don’t understand what’s going on,’ Belarusian media outlet Nasha Niva quoted Zeltser’s mother-in-law as saying. ‘Andrei is a very good person, a wonderful son-in-law.’
‘Do I consider Andrei a terrorist? Ovviamente no,’ lei disse.
‘In response to the lawful demands of law enforcement officers, a 31-year-old resident of Minsk refused to open the door of the apartment and was locked inside it. For the subsequent so-called ‘hype’, he was filming,’ the Investigative Committee of Belarus said in a statement.
Footage aired by Belarusian state TV channels showed men in plainclothes, trying to break into an apartment
‘Given the nature of the violence used, armed resistance from a 31-year-old man, he was liquidated with return fire.’
Bielorussia’ authorities often referred to protesters at anti-government demonstrations last year as ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists.’
The huge protests came after election officials gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in the August 2020 presidential election that the opposition and the West have denounced as a sham.
Lukashenko’s government unleashed a violent crackdown on the protesters, arresting more than 35,000 people and badly beating thousands of them.
The chief editor of Komsomolskaya Pravda, Vladimir Sungorkin, said Wednesday that access to its Belarusian website was blocked after it ran a short story containing ‘four sentences’ from the man’s classmate ‘about the fact that he was good guy when they studied together, always stood up for the truth.’ Sungorkin added that it has become ‘very difficult’ for journalists to work in Belarus.
After the disputed presidential election last year, authorities in Belarus have shut down the biggest independent media outlets, blocked access to popular news sites and targeted journalists with raids and detentions.
Un totale di 27 journalists in Belarus are currently behind bars, either already convicted and sentenced or awaiting trials.
EPAM declined to comment immediately.