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World Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

17:26  03 august  2020
17:26  03 august  2020 Source:   reuters.com

Belarus detains dozens of Russians as election tensions rise

  Belarus detains dozens of Russians as election tensions rise MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarusian authorities said Wednesday they have detained dozens of Russian private military contractors days before Belarus' presidential vote, a sign of escalating tensions between the two neighbors. Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is seeking a sixth term in office in the Aug. 9 vote, has repeatedly accused Russia of trying to force Belarus to abandon its post-Soviet independence. Throughout his 26-year rule, the 65-year-old Lukashenko has relied on Russian subsidies and political support but has fiercely resisted Moscow's efforts to gain control over Belarus' economic assets.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian diplomat said on Monday a group of more than 30 suspected Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus last week were The Russian state says it does not use mercenaries . The standoff could further strain relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia

Russia demanded an explanation from Belarus on Thursday over what it said was Minsk's wrongful arrest of a group of alleged Russian mercenaries Dmitry Mezentsev, Russia ’s ambassador to Belarus , said the men had been transiting Belarus en route, via Istanbul, to a third unnamed country

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian diplomat said on Monday a group of more than 30 suspected Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus last week were only passing through Minsk and were on their way to an unnamed Latin American state.

a person standing in front of a building: FILE PHOTO: Municipal worker waters the grass near a poster reading © Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko FILE PHOTO: Municipal worker waters the grass near a poster reading "August 9, 2020. Presidential Elections in Belarus" in Minsk

Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot "acts of terrorism" and destabilise it before an Aug. 9 presidential election.

Kremlin sternly urges Belarus to free detained Russians

  Kremlin sternly urges Belarus to free detained Russians MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin on Friday demanded that Belarus quickly release 33 Russian private security contractors detained on terrorism charges, dismissing the accusations as bogus. Belarusian officials said the employees of private Russian military contractor Wagner are facing a criminal probe on charges of plotting terror attacks in Belarus amid the country's presidential election campaign. The contractors were detained Wednesday. TheBelarusian officials said the employees of private Russian military contractor Wagner are facing a criminal probe on charges of plotting terror attacks in Belarus amid the country's presidential election campaign. The contractors were detained Wednesday.

Russia demanded an explanation from Belarus on Thursday over what it said was Minsk's wrongful arrest of a group of alleged Russian Belarusian state television broadcast footage on Wednesday of more than 30 suspected Russian private military contractors being detained near the capital Minsk.

Russia 's ambassador to Belarus said on Thursday that a group of more than 30 Russian nationals detained Russia demanded an explanation from Belarus earlier on Thursday, after Minsk arrested the alleged Russian mercenaries and said they were suspected of plotting Go to Home Page ».

Russian officials have dismissed the accusation and described the men as employees of a private security firm. The Russian state says it does not use mercenaries.

The standoff could further strain relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia, which soured after the neighbours failed to agree on an oil supply contract for this year.

"Their final destination was one of the states in the Latin American region," the diplomat, Kirill Pletnyev, was quoted as saying on Monday by the Russian RIA news agency.

Belarus granted Pletnyev consular access to the detained men, RIA added. His quotes did not name the Latin American country or give any more details on the identity of the men.

Belarus leader pledges allegiance to Russia ahead of vote

  Belarus leader pledges allegiance to Russia ahead of vote MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarus's authoritarian leader vowed Tuesday to maintain a close alliance with Russia as he seeks a sixth term in office amid a surge of opposition protests. In a state-of-the-nation address ahead of Sunday's election, President Alexander Lukashenko said the partnership between the neighbors reflects historic ties. “Russia has always been and will remain our close ally irrespective of who takes power in Belarus or Russia,” Lukashenko said.

MOSCOW - Relations between Russia and its erstwhile ally Belarus veered into uncharted territory after Belarusian security forces on Wednesday detained more than 30 suspected Russian mercenaries near the Belarus ’ Investigative Committee also said the detained Russians and two

Some of the 33 Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus told investigators they were on their way to Some said they were planning to vacation, some said they were going to work as guards and some In 2018, two suspects in the attempted poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Britain told

Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year, describing them as military specialists.

On Friday, Alexander Agafonov, the head of the Belarusian investigative group that is handling the case, said the arrested men - some of whom were wearing army fatigues - had given "contradictory accounts" about their plans.

He was quoted as saying that 11 of the arrested men had told authorities they planned to fly on to Venezuela, 15 to Turkey, two to Cuba and one to Syria. Another said he did not know his destination, while three refused to make a statement.

Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has said he wants a full explanation from Russia, faces his biggest electoral test in years on Aug. 9 as public anger swells over his handling of COVID-19, the economy and human rights.

(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Heavens)

Belarus Activists Urge U.S. to Punish Lukashenko as Arrested Protesters Vanish .
Alexander Lukashenko's declaration of victory in Sunday's presidential election has been followed by protests, arrests and a brutal crackdown.Four Minsk-based members of the Belarus Free Theater are among those arrested in the aftermath of the allegedly rigged ballot's results. Lukashenko was declared the winner with more than 80 percent of the vote, which sparked anger across the country.

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