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Belarus military general’s visit to Zimbabwe sparks fears

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (center) salutes during a military parade marking Independence Day in Minsk on July 3, 2018. (Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty)
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THE visit of Belarusian army general Viktor Sheiman has sparked concerns and controversy. Sheiman, who is under sanctions from the European Union and the United States for alleged human rights abuses and questionable business dealings, previously visited Zimbabwe to negotiate personal business deals.

During his recent visit, Sheiman led a Belarusian delegation that paid a courtesy call on President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs minister, Fredrick Shava, stated that Sheiman’s mission was to strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in the field of agriculture. He emphasized the potential benefits of Belarusian dairy technologies for Zimbabwe’s dairy farms.

In a prior visit in 2018, Sheiman had negotiated business deals on behalf of the Belarusian government, including agreements to explore minerals like gold, platinum, and rare earths through a joint mining venture. However, subsequent revelations suggested that these deals were not as they initially appeared, with allegations of secret ownership and conflicts of interest.

According to reports, the joint venture, Zim Goldfields, was allegedly co-owned by Sheiman’s son, Sergei, with no Belarusian government involvement. An influential Belarusian businessman named Alexander Zingman, who served as Zimbabwe’s honorary consul in Belarus, was reported to be Sergei’s partner in the gold venture.

Leaked documents from the Pandora Papers revealed that Sheiman and his family had secretly owned an offshore company involved in dealings with a Zimbabwean State-owned mining company. The Pandora Papers is a large leak of documents shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealing various offshore corporate activities and potential conflicts of interest.

Viktor Sheiman has been a close ally of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for many years. His role and alleged actions have led to sanctions from both the EU and the US, particularly related to human rights issues and the disappearance of Lukashenko’s critics during his tenure as Belarus’ prosecutor-general in 2004.

Source – newsday