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Moscow expects Russian citizens apprehended in Belarus to be released soon

According to the Kremlin spokesman, no information has been provided so far to justify the Russians’ detention
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, July 31. /TASS/. Moscow expects that the Russian citizens, apprehended in Belarus on July 29, will be released shortly, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Friday.

According to the spokesman, information that would justify their apprehension has still not been provided.

"But we hope, certain even, that our Belarusian colleagues will deals with this incident and release the Russian citizens," Peskov said. "Without doubt, unfounded apprehension of Russian citizens, and 33 citizens at that, does not quite fit the parameters of allied relations, there is no two ways about it."

"This is why we hope that this incident will be clarified by our Belarusian allies as shortly as possible, and our citizens will be released," Peskov reiterated.

He refrained from commenting whether Moscow considers this incident politically motivated.

Nothing illegal

According to Peskov, Kremlin is "highly concerned that consular access to the apprehended Russians has still not been provided."

"We hope that this will happen shortly," the spokesman said.

"Now we can say with certainty that the Russian citizens were transiting Belarus; they were supposed to fly to a third country, and their stay is connected neither to Belarus itself, nor its internal affairs," Kremlin spokesman said, adding that the apprehended Russians are employees of a private security company, who were late to their plane and expected another flight.

"They had plane tickets to Istanbul," Peskov said. "They had no illegal items and they violated no laws."

According to the spokesman, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko have not spoken directly yet.

The incident

On July 29, 32 Russian citizens were apprehended near Minsk, and one more was apprehended in Southern Belarus. They are claimed to be involved in a private military company. Following the incident, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko conducted an emergency meeting with the national Security Council. After the meeting, Council Secretary Andrey Ravkov announced that border control will be tightened, including on border with Russia; besides, security measures will be taken during the campaign for August 9 presidential elections.

On Thursday, Ravkov told journalists that a criminal case was initiated against the Russians, who are suspected of preparing a terror attack. He added that, according to Belarusian national security agencies, "up to 200 militants" stay on Belarusian territory, searches are underway.