Big interview with Ivan Noskevich for the Investigator's Notes Magazine
The Republic of Belarus is an important partner and ally of the Russian Federation. Cooperation between our countries rests on a solid foundation of friendship and good neighbourliness, which is reflected, among other things, in the interaction between the Investigative Committees of the two countries. According to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Alexander Bastrykin, by joining efforts, the investigative bodies of the post-Soviet space gain extensive prospects in the fight against crime. This is confirmed by the effective multilevel co-operation with Belarusian colleagues. Today, within the framework of existing agreements Russian and Belarusian investigators provide mutual legal assistance in investigating crimes, suppress local and transnational crime, share experience and investigative techniques, including during staff development programs, share developments in the field of forensic investigation and even work together on the Union DNA-identification program. In an interview with our magazine, Ivan Noskevich, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, spoke about the results and prospects of cooperation with the Investigative Committee of Russia.
- Tell us about cooperation between Belarus and Russia in the context of criminal law and personnel training. Was it affected by the pandemic?
- The Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus has established close and effective cooperation with the investigative agencies of many countries over almost nine years, but I would say without exaggeration that the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation is our main partner.
It is safe to say that not only is there a high level of interaction between our agencies in the criminal sphere when it comes to rendering legal assistance in criminal cases, but there is also an exchange of advanced technologies in organizing and conducting investigations. Investigators of the two countries exchange experience in personnel work, develop cooperation in the form of joint scientific and practical events - conferences, seminars and roundtables. I am sure that work will also continue on training and improving the qualifications of investigators in educational institutions in both Russia and Belarus.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has made adjustments to our joint work. Scheduled working visits and business trips to investigate criminal cases had to be cancelled, but this does not mean that we have stopped cooperating with investigative departments of other countries. However, in the area of legal assistance the work has not been suspended, but transformed. In the first nine months of 2020, 73% of all legal assistance assignments to the Russian Federation were sent by the Investigative Committee through the central office alone.
I can therefore assure you that our cooperation with our Russian colleagues in criminal investigations has not been suspended for a single minute, and this is the most important thing today.
- You mentioned the issue of investigators training. You are talking about the creation of the Institute for advanced training and retraining of personnel of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, aren’t you?
- Today, high-quality work on the selection and training of personnel is the basis for the effective functioning of any organization, this issue is especially relevant for the Investigative Committee, where personnel determine fates of people, stand for the protection of their rights and legitimate interests. That is why such attention is paid to their preparation, including in a specialized official educational institution.
“During the pandemic, cooperation in the field of legal assistance did not stop. In the first half of 2020, more than 70% of orders through the central office of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus were sent to the Russian Federation”
For several years we have been working on the idea of forming our own educational institution. By the way, the experience of the Investigative Committee of Russia in this matter was also important. Our employees have been trained on a regular basis in Russia. The need to create our own specialized educational institution was on the surface. Of course, the modern investigation is in dire need of a unified procedural framework for the investigation of various categories of crimes, high-quality scientific and theoretical support of pre-trial criminal proceedings. The most optimal way to implement these tasks is to create a separate educational institution of additional education.
I am convinced that it will allow us to train personnel effectively, improve the professional level of investigators and employees of other law enforcement agencies. The Head of State supported this idea and in June signed the Decree on the establishment of the Advanced Training and Retraining Institute of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus. This event is an important milestone in the history of the government agency as an independent law enforcement agency.
“For several years we have been working on the idea of forming our own educational institution. The experience of the Investigative Committee of Russia in this matter was also important”
The Institute will become an innovative educational institution that will not only unite the experience of scientists and practitioners in the field of pre-trial criminal proceedings accumulated over the years, but also maximally use the existing potential of the Investigative Committee in the educational process – the practices, experience, knowledge of the most qualified investigators, methodologists, managers of various levels. In addition, it is planned to use international experience – we will invite colleagues from the Investigative Committee of Russia.
- Teenagers from Belarus take part in the Young Investigator Program, organized by the Investigative Committee of Russia on the basis of leading children’s centers, which can partly be considered as the basis for the formation of future personnel. Are you planning further cooperation in this direction?
- As part of fruitful cooperation with the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, in August 2019, a joint specialized session “Young Investigator” was held at the educational institution “Russian National Children’s Center “Orlyonok”. The educational program dedicated to Internet security and fight against cybercrime is called “Battle on the Net”. In a playful way, the participants of the shift learned about the basics of legislative regulation in this sphere and about the possible dangers when using the Internet. Thanks to the participation in this educational program, children not only rested in a picturesque place, but also got acquainted with the investigative work and, I hope, took an important step towards professional identity. In order to further strengthen cooperation with the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, an agreement on holding joint educational sessions in Russian and Belarusian educational and health centers was reached.
At the initiative of the Investigative Committee of Belarus, in order to unite generations and commemoration of the feat of the Soviet people, it is planned to hold an international civil-patriotic session at the National Children’s Educational and Health Center “Zubryonok”, in which teenagers from Belarus and Russia will take part. I am sure that this will further unite our government agencies.
- What experience gained from colleagues from the Investigative Committee of Russia can be called the most useful?
- Our divisions have long and fruitful cooperation in various areas. For example, the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus actively interacts with Russian colleagues in the investigation of heavy and especially grave crimes against life and health.
Close cooperation with the Main Department of Criminalistics of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation on the introduction of new products in forensic technology has been established. This way, in the course of joint work, the management and investigators of the criminalistics departments not only study the experience of organizing the work of colleagues, but also ensure the exchange of modern technologies for investigating crimes. One example of successful cooperation is the existing practice of involving Russian criminalists in carrying out certain investigative actions in criminal cases that are in the proceedings of the investigators of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus.
This is about the use of psychological methods for memory enhancement of participants in criminal proceedings, which are widely and effectively used in the activities of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.
Such cooperation is highly effective. For example, the activities of Russian psychologists who worked with witnesses in the criminal case initiated for the murder of an entrepreneur from Berezino made it possible to recreate the appearance of the supposed criminal and make his subjective artistic portrait, which helped to find one of the murderers. In July 2019, Minsk Regional Court issued a verdict: two citizens of Belarus were found guilty, one of them, taking into account the previously committed crime, was given a life sentence, the second was sentenced to be confined for 24 years.
In addition, Belarusian investigators, in cooperation with the Criminal Expertise Centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia on the issues of the production of olfactory (scent – editor's note) analyses, took measures to intensively use the emerging expert opportunities and, appropriately, to strengthen and expand interstate cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus in the fight against crime.
Today this type of forensic studies is actively used by our investigators. As a rule, this is a continuation of the systematic work on the investigation of crimes of past years, to which our department pays rather serious attention.
So far, in Belarus only one criminal case with the olfactory analyses among the materials has a guilty verdict. I believe that soon such studies will fully enter the judicial and investigative practice of Belarus.
- Today, international cooperation in the investigation of cybercrimes is becoming especially important. Do you have a mechanism for cooperation with foreign colleagues?
- Cybercrime has no bounds. During the pandemic, when countries have severely restricted the entry of foreigners into their territory, high-tech crime continues to prosper. The transition of crime to the information environment poses new challenges for law enforcement. Cybercrime has linked continents together, and today complicated digital crime networks scattered around the world lead from one country to another. In order to untangle them, investigators must have the appropriate level of training and have a range of skills to effectively find digital traces in all parts of the world.
Close cooperation has been established between the Investigative Committees of Belarus and Russia, including cooperation on the exchange of modern technologies for investigating crimes. The use of psychological methods for memory enhancement of participants in criminal proceedings by the criminalists of the Investigative Committee of Russia has shown high efficiency.
“Every eighth crime in 2019 in Belarus was committed in the field of high technologies. It is pleasant that the Russian Federation is our strategic partner in the investigation of such crimes”
Every eighth crime in 2019 in Belarus was committed in the field of high technologies (12% of the total number of registered crimes), in the first half of 2020 this figure increased even more. It would be impossible to successfully investigate them without the help and interaction with colleagues from other countries. It is pleasant that the Russian Federation is our strategic partner in this sphere.
Let me give you an example. In July last year, the Investigative Committee of Belarus completed the investigation of a criminal case against a resident of Minsk, who produced pornographic videos and distributed them on the Internet in the Russian Federation, the USA, Ukraine and other countries.
In January 2019, representatives of the Interpol central bureau from France came to us to work together to expose persons who obtained pornographic materials from the accused and wished to come to the territory of the Republic of Belarus for the sexual exploitation of designedly minors. As part of the investigation of this criminal case, interaction with the law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation, the USA, Germany, Ukraine and a number of other countries was carried out, we sent international instructions.
The result of the joint work was the identification of an Iraqi citizen who took an active part in committing grave crimes against sexual freedom in Belarus. Now, according to the materials of the Investigative Committee of Belarus, the foreigner has been detained in his country and criminal proceedings are being conducted against him.
- Tell us about the progress of the DNA-Identification Union Program? What are the objectives of the project?
- Currently, the State Scientific Institution “Institute of Genetics and Cytology of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus” under the leadership of Alexander Kilchevsky, doctor of biological sciences, professor, academician of the NAS of Belarus with the participation of geneticists of the State Forensic Examination Committee and the Ministry of Health is actively implementing a project on the development of innovative genogeographic and genomic technologies for identification of personality and personal features on the basis of studying of the genetic pools of the regions of the Union State.
These institutions are equipped with a special laboratory and technical base, which makes it possible to carry out the necessary experiments within one project.
The project is based on a detailed database of DNA profiles of citizens on the structure of the gene pools of the population of each of the regions of Russia and Belarus. Subsequently, it can be used in criminalistics, practical medicine, as well as forecasting the demographic consequences of migration. The most relevant aspect of the possible use of such database for our department is the forensic one.
It is not secret that genetic analyses and information contained in the automated identification system PAC-AS “DNA”, functioning in the State Forensic Examination Committee, are widely used to identify the identity of citizens during the investigation of crimes by investigators of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, to identify the perpetrators, to search for missing citizens, foreign persons and stateless persons, to identify a person whose body has not been identified due to a number of circumstances, to establish family relations of the wanted persons.
The introduction of DNA analysis into criminalistics, which began about a quarter of a century ago, continues to develop actively. For example, on the initiative of the IC of Russia, within the framework of the implementation of the Scientific and Technical Program of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the State Contract “Development of innovative genogeographic and genomic technologies for identification of personality and personal features on the basis of studying of the genetic pools of the regions of the Union State” (DNA identification) was signed in 2017. The purpose of the program is to develop domestic DNA technologies for criminalistics that correspond to the modern world level of science development. They will significantly expand the possibilities of molecular genetic examination of biological traces found at a crime scene. In addition to clarifying the ethnogeographic origin and phenotype of an individual, including his external signs, this will help to establish his age and psycho-emotional status (including the facts of regular use of drugs, alcohol).
The results of this development will make it possible to obtain effective forensic technologies for determining, based on a sample of biological material seized from a crime scene, information about the ethnogeographic origin, its color of eyes, hair, the nature of skin pigmentation, other external signs, and possible chronic diseases.
Therefore, for the law enforcement agencies of the Union State, the work of this program is undoubtedly a step forward towards improving measures aimed at fight against crime.
- This year our countries are celebrating an anniversary date - the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic war. In your opinion, what can the Investigative Committees of the two countries do to preserve our common history for future generations?
- The confrontation and moderation of our peoples during the Great Patriotic war is the most vivid example of love for the Motherland and steadfastness. The courageous deed of each person at that time was a step that brought Victory closer. Today, 75 years later, in films, poems and songs, we hear the echo of the past war which is chilling. From generation to generation, through the years and centuries, we must carry this eternal flame of memory of the fallen soldiers in our hearts and pass it on to our children and grandchildren – this is the main thing that should be.
An example of fruitful joint work was the large-scale patriotic action “The Road of Memory” held last year, which started on January 15 last year from the Eternal Flame in Vladivostok. For four months, more than a hundred employees of the investigation units of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, cadets and students of educational institutions of the IC of Russia, as well as veterans of the investigation, visited the hero cities and cities of military glory of the two states in order to collect land from the places of battles.
In addition, each stop was accompanied by meetings of war and investigation veterans with students from local schools and universities. The relay race ended on May 3 in the Brest Hero-Fortress, where a festive rally dedicated to the anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and the end of the patriotic action “The Road of Memory” was held at the Eternal Flame on Ceremonial Square. A capsule with earth collected during the relay was handed over to the memorial complex “Brest Hero-Fortress”.
The pandemic has interfered in plans to hold joint historic and patriotic events this year. However, many more joint projects to honor and preserve the memory of the feat of ancestors are planned. Their dedication will always be an example for our officers.
- Tell us, when the situation with the epidemiological situation improves, what joint activities would you like to implement?
- First of all, this is the practice of holding tripartite panels with the Investigative Committees of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia. We have not met for more than a year, during this time each of the heads of the investigative agencies has accumulated a lot of working questions, it is necessary to discuss modern challenges and threats, exchange views and develop a unified approach in countering interethnic crime.
On the part of Belarus, we will raise the issue of training our Russian colleagues and Armenian investigators at our educational institution. As I said before, we are ready to share the most modern developments with our colleagues from other countries in order to improve the situation in the fight against crime in the world.
Interviewed by the official representatives of the
of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus
Yuliya Goncharova and Alexander Ivanov
specially for the magazine of the Investigative Committee of Russia “Investigator's Notes”