By Dmitry Krymov
The situation of a ‘locked down border’ is no longer applicable today; how can a transit country deny passage to cargoes or people. Belarus is crossed in all directions: by planes, trains and automobiles. Accordingly, border guards need to present an amiable face, being the first to meet foreign guests and bid farewell to their fellow countrymen. Comfortable conditions need to be created for law abiding citizens crossing the border. Of course, this doesn’t imply a relaxation of strict control, since security is also vital. However, as the world changes, so do border guards’ methods.
Last year, the State Border Committee’s soldiers, sergeants and officers detected 793 border crossing violations (against 564 in 2010). Twenty people thought to be part of organised illegal transit migration were arrested. Seven channels were stopped and around 20 possible channels of human trafficking were detected. In monetary terms, border guards confiscated 45 percent more smuggled goods than in the previous year, showing that the country’s economic interests are being protected. Moreover, 131kg of drugs and 1kg of psychotropic substances were detected, alongside seven channels of drug trafficking.
Evidently, analytical and field work is thorough, producing valuable results for our country, and for neighbouring states.
Before the session began at which the President approved the annual decision to conduct the state border policy and ensure border security, I pondered these figures. The event is traditionally attended by the heads of all security agencies, during which the Commander-in-Chief specifies his targets. This time, the President explained the need to ensure ‘border security under today’s conditions’ and to ensure ‘the efficient co-ordination of the work of various agencies’. He added that it is ‘vital to improve the quality of the State Border Committee itself’.
Earlier the State Secretariat of the Security Council studied several areas of State Border Committee activity, at the instruction of the President. Mr. Lukashenko summed up, “I’ll say directly that not everything happening within our border service agencies meets the enhanced requirements of today’s world. The character of these weaknesses indicates that the current environment isn’t being assessed properly; as a result, our major tasks have not been determined correctly.”
The President asked the Chairman of the State Border Committee, Major-General Igor Rachkovsky, about the threats and challenges faced at the border, requesting to know which present the greatest danger to the state and how he foresees these being identified and neutralised. The others in attendance were asked to assess various threats and explain how their departments help in state border protection.
The main goal is to improve the co-ordination of border security efforts, raising efficiency.
Opening the session, the Belarusian President asserted, “I ask you to remember that the border department isn’t just a security agency. It is a structure located along the perimeter of that piece of land whose sovereignty we must ensure. To what degree are our military ready to perform this task?”
From Igor Rachkovsky’s report it became clear that, in 2011, the border security agencies fulfilled their tasks. It is from this position that we proceed.