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Lukashenko: US passport holders among those detained in Belarus ahead of election

According to the Belarusian leader, the detained include those with links to the US Department of State
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Nikolai Petrov/BelTA/TASS
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
© Nikolai Petrov/BelTA/TASS

MINSK, August 6. /TASS/. Individuals with US passports linked to the Department of State were detained in the run-up to the election in Belarus, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday.

"Their first and last names are known, as well as addresses, appearances and passwords. Certain things are just beyond belief," Lukashenko was quoted by the BelTA news agency as saying during a meeting on ensuring security of the election campaign. "Mass media are ringing alarm bells that the Americans and NATO seek to capture us. Some people were detained with US passports, who were married to American women working for the Department of State." 

Lukashenko added that "it doesn’t matter if they are Americans, the State Department staff or belong to <...> the Democratic Party." "I think the Americans will start defending them now. Nothing of the kind," he went on. "Money blinds, making one just green of this money: the one who pays gets backing. That’s the only answer. We have a lot of such people."

The Belarusian leader gave no details on who had been apprehended.

On July 29, the Belarusian law enforcement agencies detained spin doctor Vitaly Shklyarov, who had consulted Belarusian opposition activists. Shklyarov was born in Belarus but lived in the US for several years. His wife and child are US citizens. According to some media reports, he also has a US passport and his wife is working for the US Embassy in Kiev.

Hybrid war

In the run-up to the election Belarus should be braced for any provocations amid hybrid war staged against it, Alexander Lukashenko warned on Thursday, being unclear as to the possible orchestrators.

"We don’t know what they are capable of. We don’t even know who they are - either the Americans with NATO or someone from Ukraine is pressing us or it might be that our eastern brothers love us so much," Lukashenko said.

"A hybrid war is underway against Belarus and we should expect dirty tricks from any side, which we actually do," Lukashenko said.

According to the president, as quoted by the BelTA news agency, many people were detained in the republic who plotted to destabilize the situation in the country, which goes beyond the detention of alleged members of the Wagner private military company.

Belarus is due to hold the presidential election on August 9 and an early vote kicked off on August 4. Five candidates are running for the top post, including incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko.