Lukashenka's three-day visit to Zimbabwe, which both Belarusian and Zimbabwean propaganda covered as if it were the event of the year, if not the decade, ended. However, everything is quite clear on that point – the visit was, in a sense, profitable for the two elderly dictators.
One showed that he had the «most important» foreign trip – to Africa (because he could not boast of other visits), and the other earned some political points in the eyes of Zimbabweans, because this year they have elections there.
But today we want to tell you something else: who, in fact, was in Lukashenka’s delegation on this trip, and what did they do there?
Key figures of the regime and pro-Lukashenka businessmen
Obviously, this visit would have made no sense at all without the businessmen close to him. Because, as journalist Aliaksei Karpeka said:
«Zimbabwe. For them it’s like that kind of startup where they invest money.»
And of course, they are taken out of there… through gold and diamond mining, the sale of agricultural equipment, fire trucks and buses. So, speaking of key figures of the Lukashenko regime, the following were spotted during the three days of his visit to Zimbabwe:
- Aleksandr Zingman — «arms dealer», one of Lukashenka’s key shadow partners in «African issues», Honorary Consul of Zimbabwe in Belarus and owner of Aftrade DMCC (you will read about his company many times in today’s article).
Aleksandr Zingman near Lukashenka, January 31, 2023 / DeptCommsZW
Note, the video below shows the very beginning of the bilateral negotiations in Zimbabwe, which took place at the State House in Harare on January 31. And the first seconds show Aleksandr Zingman saying something to Lukashenka just before the latter starts participating in the event.
HE President Emmerson Mnangagwa @edmnangagwa and his Belarusian counterpart President Aleksandr Lukashenko have this morning joined senior government officials from both countries for Bi-Lateral talks being held at State House.#engagement pic.twitter.com/81CFvEL8Db
— Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting (@InfoMinZW) January 31, 2023
In addition, it is easy to find photos of Zingman meeting and seeing Lukashenka off at the airport, as well as attending various negotiations, which once again shows the importance of this man for the Lukashenka regime in matters of relations with Africa.
- Natalia Eismont — Lukashenka’s spokesperson.
Natalia was spotted during the whole visit: she arrived with Lukashenka in Zimbabwe, accompanied him on his trips, at events and at Victoria Falls.
Natalia Eismont near Lukashenka, February 1, 2023 / DeptCommsZW
Natalia Eismont feeding an elephant in Zimbabwe / DeptCommsZW
- Viktor Sheiman — the former head of Lukashenka’s administration, the key person of the Lukashenka regime in Africa, who is suspected of organizing the so-called «death squads.»
Viktor Sheiman has long been «in charge of Africa.» Back in 2018, he made a number of deals in Zimbabwe for the exploration of minerals: gold, platinum and rare-earth metals. They began to be mined through the company Zim Goldfields, which was secretly owned by Sheiman’s son Sergei and the mentioned above «arms dealer» Aleksandr Zingman. Sheiman can only be seen a few times in new photos from Zimbabwe.
Viktor Sheiman in Zimbabwe / InfoMinZW
You have probably already noticed that some of the key figures of the regime are missing? You are right, the photo and video do not show Lukashenka’s «wallet» Aleksandr Zaitsev, although he and his company have something to do with Zimbabwe.
Moreover, during this visit, his company SOHRA Overseas FZE, together with JSC BelAZ and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company Pvt Ltd signed a memorandum for the implementation of agreements to supply Belarusian machinery and equipment for the mining industry in Zimbabwe.
The Lukashenka family
We’ve told you about the key figures in the business, now let’s move on to the family. Lukashenka’s sons Nikolai and Dmitry went to Africa.
Nikolai and Dmitry Lukashenka in Zimbabwe / NgarivhumeJacob
Dmitry Lukashenko (lower left) at his father's speech in Zimbabwe
Unlike Dmitry, Nikolai got into photos a lot more often. During almost the entire trip, he sat next to his father, and of course he was also at the waterfall. But it was Irina Abelskaya, the head doctor of the Republican Medical Center of the Directorate of the President and Nikolai Lukashenka’s mother, whom they did not want to show.
Nikolai Lukashenka and Irina Abelskaya at one table in Zimbabwe / ZBC
They both got into footage of the local TV company, which prepared a report about the evening reception on January 31. Nikolai Lukashenka sat together with a man in a strict suit and a scarf in the national colors of Zimbabwe, and a woman who looks a lot like Irina Abelskaya, Nikolai’s mother, was sitting next to him.
At least 8 ministers of the Lukashenka regime got into the photo. All of them were brought there by a Belavia charter, together with security officers and a pool of journalists on January 29.
Belarusian ministers get off the plane at Harare airport, January 29 / GeorgeCharamba2
- Sergei Aleinik — the head of the Belarusian MFA.
What he did: He attended all the meetings, signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the framework of supplies to Zimbabwe of machines and equipment produced in Belarus for the timber industry and held negotiations with the African country’s foreign minister.
- Piotr Parkhomchik — Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Industry of Belarus.
At least one story about Africa and Parkhomchik comes to mind. Last year he traveled to Lome, where he participated in the transfer of 22 buses for the Togolese Republic, which were produced under the SUB brand at the Zhodzina plant ETON and delivered through Aleksandr Zingman’s Dubai-based company AFTRADE DMCC, which we have already mentioned above. According to local publications, the amount of the deal was $2,276,000.
What he did: Now Parkhomchik attended the signing of most of the documents and sat next to Lukashenka. Perhaps he was a kind of mediator between the Belarusian enterprises and Zimbabwe, who signed an impressive number of documents in three days.
- Andrei Ivanets — the Minister of Education of Belarus.
What he did: Signed a memorandum of understanding between Belarus and Zimbabwe on mutual recognition of educational documents.
Ministers of the Lukashenka regime in Zimbabwe, January 31 / DeptCommsZW
- Aleksandr Rogozhnik — the Minister of Industry of Belarus.
What he did: Held negotiations with the Minister of Industry and Trade of Zimbabwe.
- Leonid Zayats — Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus.
What he did: It is not clear, as he was only spotted in one photo (from the back), there was no other information about his participation in the visit.
- Igor Brylo — the Minister of Agriculture and Food of Belarus.
What he did: At the meetings, he sat in the front row next to Lukashenka. There were no reports of him signing any documents.
- Viktor Karankevich — Minister of Energy of Belarus.
What he did: Attended the meetings.
- Sergei Nalivaiko — the Minister for Taxes and Duties of Belarus.
What he did: Signed an agreement to avoid double taxation with Zimbabwe and prevent tax evasion regarding income and property taxes.
- Dmitry Pantus — the chairman of the State Military-Industrial Committee;
Ambassadors and Charge d'affaires ad interim
Aleksandr Sidoruk meets the ministers of the Belarusian regime in Harare, January 29 / GeorgeCharamba2
- Dmitry Sakun — Chargу d’affaires ad interim of Belarus to Zimbabwe.
- Aleksandr Sidoruk — Ambassador of Belarus to RSA and to Zimbabwe.
- Dmitry Basik — Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Belarus to the U.S.
By the way, it was Basik who accompanied Lukashenka during his entire visit, apparently acting as his interpreter.
Heads of enterprises and others
- Mikhail Miatlikov — the chairman of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
- Gennady Timoshevich — the head of Belspetsvneshtehnika (he was present as an accompanying person).
In the first row: Sheiman, Ivanets, Pantus, Lugina and Kukharev. In the second row: Gennady Timoshevich / DeptCommsZW
- Vladimir Kukharev — the head of the Minsk City Executive Committee. He signed an agreement on the establishment of a twin-city relationship between Minsk and Harare.
- Yevgeny Pustovoi — a propagandist for STV TV channel.
- Aleksandr Panasyuk — the general director of the Confederation of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
- Olga Shevko — the director of Aftrade DMCC. In Harare, Olga signed at least 10 documents, among them:
- A contract on the supply of tractors and grain harvesting equipment from Belarus;
- A contract on the construction and modernization of granaries in Zimbabwe;
- A contract on the supply of equipment for the timber industry.
Olga Shevko during the signing of documents in Harare / InfoMinZW
- Andrei Korol — the rector of BSU. He signed 6 memorandums with universities of Zimbabwe.
- Tatyana Lugina — the chairwoman of Bellegprom. She discussed the possibility of supplying cotton from Zimbabwe to Belarus. It is also possible to find information about the signing of an agreement for the purchase of Zimbabwean cotton.
- Vitaly Vovk — the general director of MTZ. In Harare, he signed a contract on the supply of 3,575 tractors to Zimbabwe in 2023-2024, which will be delivered through AFTRADE DMCC.
- Vitaly Yakubchik — the head of Lidselmash. He signed a contract with AFTRADE DMCC on the construction of 4 new grain cleaning and drying storage complexes in Zimbabwe.
Vitaly Yakubchik and Olga Shevko sign a contract on the construction of 4 new grain storage complexes / lidanews
- Aleksandr Novikov — the head of JSC Gomselmash. He signed a memorandum of strategic cooperation with AFTRADE DMCC, which includes the supply of 60 units of equipment to Zimbabwe in addition to the previously supplied agro-machines.
- Andrei Bondarchuk — the director of JSC Bobruiskselmash. He signed a memorandum of cooperation with AFTRADE DMCC for 2023, which includes the continued supply of trailed, mounted equipment and spare parts to Zimbabwe. In 2022, Bobruiskselmash already supplied heavy disc harrows PTD-4 to Zimbabwe.
- Aleksandr Botvinnik — the general director of Minsk Motor Plant. He signed a document on cooperation with AFTRADE DMCC.
Yes, you got it right, the directors of MTZ, Lidselmash, Gomselmash and other enterprises signed contracts not with representatives of the Ministry of Industry or Agriculture of Zimbabwe, but with Olga Shevko, the director of «arms dealer» Aleksandr Zingman’s company Aftrade DMCC, which is the official dealer of the Belarusian equipment in Africa.
The obvious question is, «Why couldn’t they have signed them in Minsk?» They could have, but as we said at the beginning of the article, everything indicates that the visit to Zimbabwe was deliberately tried to get as much attention as possible. To bring as many people as they could, and to show the «importance» of the foreign trip for propaganda purposes.
But they all went to Africa not just for the «show-off,» didn’t they? As experience shows, any visit of Lukashenka pursues, in addition to other goals, one main thing – money. Do you remember that Africa is their «startup»? The startup that can pay for their harvesters not in dollars or euros, but in gold and diamonds. But there is reason to believe that there was something else in this visit besides the contracts announced.
They did not just fly through Abu Dhabi and did not mention Aleksandr Zaitsev at all for no reason, did they?