Russian spymaster accuses US of fomenting Belarus protests

Protesters in Belarus are seeking resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko

Russian spymaster accuses US of fomenting Belarus protests

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko meets Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Minsk, on September 16, 2020. Reuters

Moscow, September 16

Russia’s intelligence chief on Wednesday accused the United States of fomenting massive demonstrations against Belarus’ authoritarian president that have entered their sixth week.

Protesters in Belarus are seeking the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko, denouncing his landslide re-election in the August 9 vote as rigged and demanding an end to his 26-year rule.

The US and the European Union have criticised the election as neither free nor fair, and urged Lukashenko to start talks with the opposition — a call he has rejected.

Sergei Naryshkin, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, claimed in a statement carried by Russian news agencies Wednesday that the US has funded the Belarusian opposition and encouraged the protests.

“It effectively amounts to a thinly-veiled attempt to stage another ‘colour revolution’ and an anti-constitutional coup, the objectives and tasks of which have nothing in common with interests of citizens of Belarus,” Naryshkin said in a reference to the colour-coded uprisings that swept out unpopular leaders in Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations.

Naryshkin added that his agency has information that “the US is playing a key role in the current developments in Belarus”. He alleged that the US has earmarked tens of millions of dollars to finance Belarus’ opposition groups.

The US Embassy in Minsk had no immediate comment.

In a long speech to top Belarus officials Wednesday, Lukashenko accused the US and its allies of spearheading the push to unseat him through carefully prepared protests. He charged that the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine all played a major role. All those countries have denied similar claims by Lukashenko in the past.

“The Belarusian 2020 scenario is a combination of the most effective ‘colour’ destabilisation technologies that have been tested in various countries,” he said. “They obviously count on the scale and duration of protests to wear us down and exhaust our resources. We aren’t relaxing and stand ready to respond to any challenge.” The Western pressure has pushed Lukashenko to further cement ties with Russia, his main sponsor and ally. The neighboring countries have a union agreement and maintain strong political, economic and military ties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a new USD 1.5 billion loan to Belarus on Monday when he hosted Lukashenko for four hours of talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. The Belarusian opposition has condemned Moscow for offering the Belarusian strongman a financial lifeline, warning that it would tarnish future ties between the countries.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reaffirmed Wednesday that Moscow sees Lukashenko as Belarus’ legitimately elected leader.

Asked about the Kremlin’s view of a proposal from Belarusian main opposition challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, to offer Lukashenko security guarantees if he agrees to step down, Peskov responded that Belarus’ leader doesn’t need any.

“Lukashenko is the legitimate president of Belarus,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. “I don’t think that he needs any security guarantees in his own country.” Naryshkin charged that the U.S. has taken Tsikhanouskaya, who moved to Lithuania after the vote under the authorities pressure, and other Belarusian opposition activists under its “close patronage” to promote them as future leaders of the country.

In a bid to rally Moscow’s support, Lukashenko has engaged in similar rhetoric, accusing the West of fuelling the protests in a bid to isolate Russia. Earlier this week, Russian paratroopers deployed to Belarus for the drills that will run through Sept. 25 near Brest, on the border with Poland.

At a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu who visited Belarus Wednesday for talks on deepening military cooperation, Lukashenko suggested planning more maneuvers in the future.

“We need to think about a second stage of the drills and more exercises, to work out a plan irrespective of what they say,” he said. “We aren’t going to provoke or defy anyone, but we must protect our interests.” — AP

 

Top Stories

Special Judge begins proceedings in Babri demolition case

Special Judge begins proceedings in Babri demolition case

Case relates to razing of disputed structure in Ayodhya on D...

PM Modi tells Yogi govt to take strict action against Hathras gang-rape culprits

PM Modi tells Yogi govt to take strict action against Hathras gang-rape culprits

UP govt sets up 3-member SIT to probe incident

India does not give a 'straight count' on Covid-19 deaths: Trump

India does not give a 'straight count' on Covid-19 deaths: Trump

During the presidential debate on Tuesday night between him ...

80,472 new infections in a day push national Covid tally beyond 62 lakh

80,472 new infections in a day push national Covid tally beyond 62 lakh

Death toll rises to 97,497 with 1,179 more fatalities

Cities

View All