Vladimir Putin discussed the situation with the detention of 33 Russian citizens by telephone with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. on the site The press service of the Russian president said that Moscow is interested in maintaining a stable internal political situation in Belarus and holding the presidential elections in a calm atmosphere.
The press service of the Belarusian leader also emphasized that the head of state is striving “to sort out the situation in the most serious way”. “The presidents agreed to thoroughly and substantively study every available fact in order to establish the true reasons for the current situation, find the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” website President of Belarus.
It became known about the detention in Belarus of 33 people who were called fighters of the Wagner PMC July 29… According to the law enforcement agencies of Belarus, information was received about the arrival of more than 200 militants to destabilize the situation during the election campaign.
Each Russian had a small hand luggage with him, and all of them had three large heavy suitcases, which were loaded into the vehicle by several men. The Belarusian authorities claim that the detainees are linked to the private military company Wagner. A criminal case on the preparation of terrorist acts has already been initiated against them, they are giving evidence.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko called all this “an emergency”, summoned the Security Council and accused Russia of “dirty intentions.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the National Security and Defense Council said that they are closely monitoring the situation, and requests for extradition of the detainees will be drawn up by the competent authorities, if they deem it necessary.
The press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that all the detainees are citizens of Russia, Moscow does not recognize their other citizenship. He also said that Russian law does not provide for the existence of PMCs, but allows PSCs. On July 31, following the Foreign Ministry, he announced that private security guards had been detained in Belarus, who were supposed to transit through Minsk to Istanbul and had not done anything illegal in Belarus. According to the version voiced by sources in the Russian special services, the “Wagnerians” could be sent in transit through Belarus to Africa or the Middle East.
Later, the office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine informed the competent authorities of Belarus about the intention to demand extradition. 28 people out of 33 detained. They were announced on suspicion of participation in a terrorist organization (Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), nine of them are citizens of Ukraine. It was reported that the Ukrainian side intends to bring them to criminal responsibility for crimes related to illegal participation in the armed conflict in Donbass.
In his message to the people and the National Assembly, Lukashenka also announced the transfer another squad of militants to the south of the country and reported an attempt to organize a massacre in the center of Minsk. He did not accuse anyone specifically of trying to organize this massacre, but after that he moved on to discussing the detained “Wagnerites”. According to him, the mercenaries came to Belarus on purpose and watched in Minsk what was happening during the presidential election campaign. “And all this about Istanbul, Venezuela, Africa and Libya is a lie. These people (they gave evidence) were sent specially to Belarus,” Lukashenka said.
Subsequently, the Russian media called the detention of the Russians the result provocations of the Ukrainian special services… According to them, the recruitment and escort of the members of the detained group came from virtual phone numbers, tickets for the groups were purchased through Ukrainian travel agencies. And immediately after the arrest on July 29, lists of the detainees were handed over to the Ukrainian embassy in Minsk. The SBU operation was supposed to strike simultaneously at PMC Wagner, Rosneft and Russian-Belarusian relations, and the possible extradition Russian citizens to Ukraine could be a good response to last year’s incident in the Kerch Strait.