Russia’s foreign minister blames Ukrainian ‘extremist training camps’ for inciting protests in Belarus
Roughly 200 “trained extremists” are responsible for provoking “radical actions” at opposition protests in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed at a press conference on Wednesday in Moscow, where he discussed the results of negotiations with his Belarusian counterpart, Vladimir Makei.
“There are extremist training camps in Ukraine — in the Volyn and Dnipropetrovsk, according to our information — and today we discussed this. I’m sure our intelligence services should devote more attention to this and they’re now in contact [about the issue]. Based on our estimates, there are roughly 200 extremists, trained in Ukraine, now present in the Republic of Belarus,” Lavrov said, according to a report by the news agency Interfax.
Lavrov said Russia has evidence that radical protests in Belarus are due in part to instigation by Ukrainian paramilitary and nationalist organizations like “Tryzub,” “S14,” the “National Corps,” and “Right Sector” (all banned in Russia). “All these outfits are involved in provoking radical actions in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, financing related activities, and inciting those whom they consider to be promising extremist leaders in order to introduce violent elements into what is happening in demonstrations in the Belarusian capital,” the Russian foreign minister explained.
Officials in Belarus have repeatedly blamed foreign instigators for the opposition protests that have rocked the country since the contested August 9 presidential election, when Alexander Lukashenko claimed his latest landslide re-election victory. Minsk has singled out Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states.
Vladimir Putin says Russia has assembled a police reserve that could be dispatched to uphold law and order in Belarus, if Lukashenko requests assistance and “extremists start burning cars and homes.”