Belarus leader accuses US and its allies of fueling protests




  • In US
  • 2020-09-16 13:02:46Z
  • By Associated Press
Belarus leader accuses US and its allies of fueling protests
Belarus leader accuses US and its allies of fueling protests  

MOSCOW (AP) - Belarus' authoritarian leader accused the United States and its allies of fomenting massive demonstrations against his rule, a claim echoed Wednesday by Russia's intelligence chief.

In a long speech to top officials, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ranted against the alleged U.S.-led plan to destabilize the country and claimed that American allies in Europe have participated in the effort that took years to prepare.

Protesters in Belarus have flooded streets for a sixth week, denouncing Lukashenko's landslide reelection in the Aug. 9 vote as rigged and demanding an end to his 26-year iron-fist rule.

The U.S. and the European Union have criticized the election as neither free nor fair, and urged Lukashenko to start talks with the opposition - a call he has rejected.

"We had the vote and got the result, period," Lukashenko said in Wednesday's speech before top officials. "It's time to stop stirring up society."

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

Naryshkin added that his agency has information that "the U.S. is playing a key role in the current developments in Belarus." He alleged that the U.S. has earmarked tens of millions of dollars to finance Belarus' opposition groups, but provided no evidence.

The U.S. Embassy in Minsk had no immediate comment.

In Wednesday's speech, Lukashenko charged that the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine have helped fuel protests. All those countries have denied similar claims by Lukashenko in the past.

"The Belarusian 2020 scenario is a combination of the most effective 'color' destabilization 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."

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency, noted that and his colleagues from other EU countries will meet Monday to consider how to proceed with sanctions.

"I will say openly that if the violence against the peaceful opposition doesn't stop, then these measures will have to be extended to significantly more people, and then we will have to talk about Mr. Lukashenko," Maas told the German parliament on Wednesday.

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 $1.5 billion loan to Belarus when he hosted Lukashenko on Monday - a financial lifeline condemned by the Belarusian opposition, which warned Moscow that it would tarnish future ties between the countries.

In a bid to rally Moscow's support, Lukashenko has engaged in similar rhetoric, accusing the West of fueling 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."

The German foreign minister noted that Russia "carries a very special responsibility" given its close ties with Belarus and warned that "with its unconditional support for Lukashenko so far and hybrid exertion of influence, Moscow will certainly lose the sympathy of people in Belarus."

Maas also sought to allay the Kremlin fears of Belarus falling into the Western orbit.

"For us inside the European Union as well, this is not about detaching Belarus from Russia and incorporating it in the European Union," he said. "This is simply about us standing up for people in Belarus being able to decide themselves what road they take in a free and fair election."

___

Yuras Karmanau reported from Kyiv, Ukraine. Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

____

Follow all AP stories about the turmoil in Belarus at https://apnews.com/Belarus

COMMENTS

More Related News

Facebook tells Irish court that probe threatens its EU operations - newspaper
Facebook tells Irish court that probe threatens its EU operations - newspaper

Facebook has told Ireland's High Court it cannot see how its services could operate in the European Union if regulators freeze its data transfer mechanism, the Sunday Business Post reported, citing court documents seen by the paper. The U.S. social media giant last week said that the Irish Data Protection Commission, its lead EU regulator, had made a preliminary decision that the mechanism it uses to transfer data from the EU to the United States "cannot in practice be used". Facebook requested and secured a temporary freeze on the order and a court review in the Irish High Court, which is due to consider the issue in November.

Trump Makes America More Like Russia Every Day
Trump Makes America More Like Russia Every Day
  • World
  • 2020-09-20 09:02:42Z

Russian spies have undermined America for nearly a century. Their goals during and after the cold war were the same: Subvert the United States, sabotage its power, poison the body politic. They used the weapons of political warfare: deception, disinformation, espionage.Their American agents held positions of power and authority. They infiltrated the Justice Department, the State Department, and all of America's national-security agencies. Turncoats at the FBI and the CIA gave the Russians keys to the kingdom of American intelligence. Their treason went undetected for many years. A Nazi-hunting congressman, Samuel Dickstein of New York, became a Kremlin spy in 1937. His work stayed secret...

AP PHOTOS: Elderly protesters defy Belarus
AP PHOTOS: Elderly protesters defy Belarus' strongman
  • World
  • 2020-09-20 06:49:29Z

Thousands of protesters who have flooded Belarusian cities for six weeks of demonstrations to demand an end to the 26-year rule of the country's authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko include people of all ages, professions and social groups. While younger people make up the bulk of the protests pushing for Lukashenko's resignation after the Aug. 9 vote that the opposition sees as rigged, many retirees also have joined the daily demonstrations. The 73-year-old former geologist has become one of the most recognizable faces of Belarus protests, fearlessly waving a huge red-and-white opposition flag in front of riot police.

Rights group: More than 200 women detained at Minsk protest
Rights group: More than 200 women detained at Minsk protest
  • World
  • 2020-09-19 17:18:08Z

Police in the capital of Belarus cracked down sharply Saturday on a women's protest march demanding the authoritarian president's resignation, arresting more than 200 including an elderly woman who has become a symbol of the six weeks of protest that have roiled the country. More than 2,000 women took part in the march in Minsk. Officials said President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term in office with 80% support in that vote but opponents and some poll workers say the results were rigged.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US