Belarus leader accuses Russia of 'lying', warns of 'revolution' plot

WION Web Team Belarus Aug 04, 2020, 07.02 PM(IST)

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko delivers his annual address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly in Minsk, Belarus Photograph:( Reuters )

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Russia, traditionally a close ally, has said the detained men were merely transiting via Belarus en route to a third country and had no plans to try to influence Belarusian domestic politics.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday accused Russia of lying about the presence of Russian security contractors in Belarus and said unnamed forces were trying to carry out a revolution but would fail.

The 65-year-old has ruled over the ex-Soviet country wedged between Russia and Europe with an authoritarian grip for 26 years and has cracked down on the country's emboldened opposition in the lead-up to Sunday's election.

Belarus detained the Russian contractors last week and opened a criminal case into them, saying it suspected "the preparation of terrorist acts". It suggested the men may be linked to Lukashenko's political rivals.

Russia, traditionally a close ally, has said the detained men were merely transiting via Belarus en route to a third country and had no plans to try to influence Belarusian domestic politics.

During a televised address to the nation, Lukashenko slammed what he said were attempts by his opponents to organise "a massacre" on the streets of the capital Minsk, claiming his critics were being backed by "billion-dollar resources" to create unrest. 

Also read: Belarus says Russians plotted attacks; Kremlin denies

"Will Belarus survive? Will it survive this hybrid war?" he said, sweating profusely and repeatedly mopping his brow.

"We will not give the country to you. Independence is expensive, but it is worth it," he said during his speech which lasted more than an hour and a half.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow, which has in the past dismissed Lukashenko's criticism of it as emotional.

Lukashenko used his speech to cast himself as a guarantor of stability in a chaotic world and pledged to protect his country from rivals he portrayed as childish wreckers being controlled by "puppet masters" abroad.

The former collective farm director turned Europe's longest-serving ruler is seeking a sixth term in the upcoming ballot after barring his main rivals from contesting the vote and jailing some of them.

He has accused European countries and Russia of meddling in the elections and last week the Belarusian security service, the KGB, arrested 33 Russian "militants" that the authorities said were plotting mass riots with the opposition.