Russia accuses U.S. of promoting revolution in Belarus

By Tom Balmforth

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Wednesday accused Washington of hoping to foment a revolution in Belarus, exactly where it sent its defence minister for talks on armed service ties, in a signal that Moscow’s guidance for embattled Belarusian chief Alexander Lukashenko was hardening.

Mass protests due to the fact an Aug. 9 election marred by vote-rigging allegations have posed the biggest menace nevertheless to Lukashenko, and the Kremlin’s backing has grow to be essential for his chances of extending his 26-yr rule.

The former Soviet point out farm boss travelled to Russia on Monday for his initial talks with President Vladimir Putin since the crisis started, coming away with a $1.5 billion loan to prop up his Soviet-style command economic system.

On Wednesday, Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR Overseas Intelligence Services, accused Washington of performing behind the scenes to overthrow Lukashenko in a coup, some of Moscow’s strongest rhetoric about the disaster however.

“Essentially we are chatting about a badly disguised try to organise a further ‘colour revolution’ and an anti-constitutional coup, the ambitions and goals of which have nothing at all to do with the passions of Belarusian citizens,” he was quoted by RIA information agency as declaring.

He accused Washington of funding anti-govt bloggers and instruction activists via NGOs and of backing some others including opposition chief Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who fled the state for Lithuania amid a law enforcement crackdown.

“In accordance to the SVR’s information and facts, the United States is playing a crucial job in Belarus,” he mentioned.

Russia has long blamed the West for revolutions these as Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution, Ukraine’s 2003-04 Orange Revolution in which Russia said the West backed the protesters.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu flew into Minsk on Wednesday and held talks with Lukashenko, who explained he had questioned Putin to source Belarus with a number of forms of weapon. He did not specify which weapons he experienced asked for from Putin.

Russia and Belarus are at this time keeping joint navy drills that run until late September. Lukashenko mentioned the two nations should prepare additional drills of the exact kind.

Moscow is a close ally that sees Belarus as a buffer from NATO and a vital export corridor for its oil. But that support belies an uncomfortable particular romantic relationship between Putin and Lukashenko, who for yrs has played Russia off from the West in order to extract political achieve from the Kremlin.

Echoing Naryshkin’s opinions, Lukashenko accused the United States of partnering with Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Ukraine to concentrate on his federal government.

“The tactics of the organisers ended up based mostly on the typical American textbook of colour revolutions,” he reported.

(Added reporting by Maria Kiselyova Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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