In a speech on Tuesday, August 4, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) reported an attempt “to organize a massacre in downtown Minsk” and “billions in resources” spent on destabilizing the country ahead of the presidential election on August 9.
Lukashenko accused no one directly of the “massacre” plot, but he then pivoted to remarks about a group of Russian “mercenaries” arrested in Minsk late last month. “First it was Istanbul, then no it isn’t Istanbul but Venezuela. Then they called yesterday and said, no, it’s not Venezuela and even we don’t know where [the mercenaries were going],” Lukashenko said, calling Moscow’s claims about the arrested Russian nationals “complete lies.”
The president also said that the Belarusian authorities have arrested another group, but he offered no details.
“They’ve decided to rain down a ‘color revolution’ on our strong, solid society. It won’t work!” Lukashenko declared.
On July 29, Belarusian security agents arrested 33 Russian nationals. Officials in Minsk say the men are mercenaries from the “Wagner” private military company who planned to incite riots ahead of the presidential election. The authorities say arrested and unregistered presidential candidate Sergey Tikhanovsky (Siarhei Tsikhanouski) and former presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich (Mikola Statkevich) were part of the plot. Russian diplomats have identified the arrested “mercenaries” as private security guards.