Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev commented on the detention of 33 Russians near Minsk and said that the Russian side expects from Belarus evidence that its actions and the criminal proceedings against the detainees are justified. According to him, Russian citizens are "not involved" in the events in Belarus, reports the Current Time.
The incident took place on July 29. The Belarusian authorities announced that they consider Russians to be "militants of a private military company" who allegedly came to the country "to destabilize the situation during the presidential election." President Alexander Lukashenko called the detention an "extraordinary incident" and said that Russia had "dirty intentions". A criminal case has been opened against the detained men for preparing terrorist acts, but they have not yet been charged.
The ambassador said that the Russians allegedly stayed at the resort "Belarusochka" because they were late for a transit flight to a third country. He later explained that they were supposedly going to Turkey.
"They were going to fly out on July 25 and did not intend to be in Belarus any longer," he said. "They arrived in Belarus because of a contract signed with one of the Belarusian firms and they, obviously, can be employees of a private security company".
"Wearing camouflage uniforms, as well as unwillingness to support hospitable Slavic traditions, unwillingness to raise the "good glass" for friends during the stay in any resort of Belarus is not the basis for such close media attention, and it is not the basis for the actions of law enforcement agencies without convincing and compelling reasons," said Dmitry Mezentsev.
He said that the reports of some Belarusian media outlet about Russia’s attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus have "no grounds" and the detainees are not involved in the events in this country. He promised to protect the rights of Russian citizens. According to him, a note has been sent to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to ensure that diplomats are able to visit the detainees very soon.
Earlier, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is aware of the detention of 33 Russian citizens in Belarus and expects "exhaustive information" from Minsk on this issue. However, according to the Kremlin representative, "there is no information about illegal actions of Russians that could have caused their detention."
The Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus said that 33 detainees are not the only Russians from private military companies who entered the country before the elections. According to him, "the other 170" are also in Belarus and Belarusian authorities are looking for them.