MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has dismissed as groundless attempts to find a "Russian connection" to the unrest in Belarus.
"We expect that professional cooperation by the investigative committees, prosecutor generals’ offices and other agencies of the two countries will help clear up the situation involving the detention of 33 Russian citizens as soon as possible. It is important to stress that the attempts to find a ‘Russian connection’ to the latest unrest in Belarus are groundless," Zakharova told a news briefing. "There have been signs pointing in a different direction."
Related evidence, she said, has been shared with the Belarusian side and is available to the public at large.
Attempts to spoil relations between Russia and Belarus are bound to fail, Maria Zakharova continued. "Russia has been and will remain a reliable ally and friend of Belarus and the fraternal Belarusian nation. We are confident that any attempts to cause a rift between us are bound to fail," she said.
Russia observes clear attempts of foreign interference in Belarus' affairs aimed at splitting the society, the spokeswoman stated.
"We observe unprecedented pressure exerted on Belarusian authorities by some foreign partners. There are clear attempts of foreign interference in the affairs of a sovereign state to split the society and destabilize the situation," the diplomat underlined.
She also emphasized that the Russian side had witnessed these tools employed in other countries many times.
"We urge everyone to show restraint and prudence. We reaffirm that we are interested in stable domestic political situation in Belarus. We hope that the situation in that country will stabilize and return to normalcy soon," she stressed.
Most journalists released
Many of the Russian journalists detained in Belarus in recent days have been released, the diplomat informed.
She said Russia’s ambassador in Minsk, Dmitry Mezentsev maintained close contact with the Belarusian authorities concerned.
"By now most of the detained Russian journalists have been released," Zakharova stated. "Semyon Pegov, Vladislav Zizdok, Anton Starkov, Dmitry Lasenko, Maxim Solopov, Ilya Pitalyov, Nikita Telizhenko and Igor Rogov are back home. We are grateful to our Belarusian counterparts for prompt response to the embassy’s queries. But I would like to point out that the work for protecting the rights of Russian citizens will certainly continue," she stressed.
On August 9, the presidential election took place in Belarus. Preliminary results show incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko securing his reelection with 80.08% of the votes, while his biggest rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya received 10.09% of the ballots cast. The other three candidates failed to get more than two percent each. After exit poll results were revealed late on August 9, many cities and towns across the country saw mass protests that in some cases turned into clashes with the police. Since Sunday, people have been joining demonstrators in the evening daily, while the national Interior Ministry said 6,000 had been detained and dozens of police officers and protesters were injured.