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Russian ambassador in Minsk calls for soonest release of detained Russians

"In the current situation, it would be justified and fair to release the Russians as soon as possible," he told reporters

MINSK, August 8. /TASS/. Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev is convinced that the soonest release of Russian citizens earlier detained in Belarus would be a "justified and fair" decision under the current circumstances.

He also told reporters on Friday that he views as justified "the version, according to which this provocation was staged from a third country by enemies of Russia and Belarus, with an aim to complicate the relations between Moscow and Minsk in the period when preparations for the election of the Belarusian head of state are under way."

"In the current situation, it would be justified and fair to release the Russians as soon as possible and to give them an opportunity to return home," he told reporters on Friday.

"On August 6-7, staff of the Consular Department of the Russian Embassy in Belarus met with the 33 Russian citizens detained near Minsk. They still do not understand reasons for their detention and charges of preparing to participate in mass riots," the ambassador said. "Today, convincing facts were presented, proving that a provocation aimed at harming the relations between Russia and Belarus was being prepared from a third country."

In the diplomat’s words, "Belarusian law enforces reacted straightforwardly and harshly to the group’s presence on the republic’s territory, without having full information and, regretfully, not in cooperation with Russian colleagues."

"I’m convinced that the procedural probe launched by the Russian Investigative Committee would confirm the orchestrated nature of this massive scam, in which the Russian citizens had become embroiled. As envisioned by foreign masterminds, this incident was intended to damage the multi-facetted cooperation and special relations between our states," the ambassador said.

"It is important to note that officers of the Russian Investigative Committee are ready to cooperate with partners. We are convinced that, as a result of this work, convincing facts will be presented about Russia’s non-involvement into the provocative show, organized according to a scenario written in a third country," he added.

Mezentsev went on to say that "the Russian side will never resort to steps that might lead to violations of public order and law or incite tension in the brotherly country of Belarus, especially in the pre-election period."

Belarus announced the detention of 33 Russian nationals on the night of July 29. The Russians are accused of plotting a terrorist attack. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in his state of the nation address on Tuesday that the Russians had been sent to Belarus with a purpose. Belarus was reported to have handed a list of the detained Russians over to Kiev. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that Ukrainian passport holders could be on the list and Kiev would consider them to be Ukrainian nationals.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in turn, noted that Moscow did not recognize the Ukrainian citizenship of some of the detained people. He pointed out that the Russian citizens had planned to travel to another country via Belarus. According to the Kremlin spokesman, they are employees of a private security company and their stay in Minsk had nothing to do with Belarusian domestic affairs.

The issue of the detention of Russians was in the focus of the phone conversation between the presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, on August 7. "Confidence was expressed that the situation would be settled in the spirit of mutual understanding that is characteristic of cooperation between the two countries," the Kremlin said, adding that President Putin had pledged that Russia was interested in stability and calm voting in Belarus.

In turn, the Belarusian leader’s press service said the sides emphasized their determination "to work together to sort out the matter" and "to thoroughly study every available fact in order to establish the true causes of the current situation, find those responsible and hold them accountable.".