Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said an air assault brigade will be moved to the country’s border, amid massive anti-government protests that the leader has dubbed a “color revolution” directed by foreign agents.
Speaking to state media on Saturday, Lukashenko said he was “worried” that NATO was carrying out military exercises in Poland and Lithuania, regarding it as an arms build-up on Belarus’ borders.
The president said that Belarus “cannot calmly observe this” and do nothing, adding that he has ordered the transfer of an airborne brigade from Vitebsk to Grodno.
Lukashenko also slammed foreign countries which he said were attempting to act as “mediators” in the country’s problems, urging them to “put their own business in order” before dictating to Minsk.
Earlier, Lukashenko said Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised to help him secure his country’s safety, if necessary. According to the Kremlin, the two leaders agreed that the country’s problems “will be solved soon” and that the situation would not harm relations between the two countries.
Lukashenko’s re-election for a sixth term last week was marred by massive protests, as thousands took to the streets over their belief that the election – in which the president claims to have received 80 percent of the votes – had been rigged. Workers at major state-run industrial plants were also hit with demonstrations and strikes during the week.
On Saturday, Lukashenko said workers at state-run companies should be fired if they go on strike, suggesting they were colluding with foreign actors, according to BelTa.
The European Union has said it does not believe the election results were legitimate and is readying itself to impose sanctions on Minsk in response to the bloody police crackdown, which has already seen two protesters killed.
On a visit to Poland on Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was monitoring the situation in Belarus.
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