MOSCOW, April 21. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly a government coup plot in Belarus and an attempt on Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s life and did not let Western countries distract attention from this story, Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries Vladimir Zharikhin told TASS on Wednesday.
"Putin said quite definitely that this was serious. And, apparently, Lukashenko’s statement that Putin mentioned this story in a talk with [US President Joe] Biden is a reality," the expert pointed out.
"Now this has become a high-profile international story, not fake news or a propaganda element but a serious issue of inter-state relations. Putin drew attention to this story again and did not let dump it informationally," Zharikhin said.
Commenting on the Russian leader’s statement on the absence of the West’s response to the preparations for a government coup in Belarus and plans for the assassination of the country’s leader, the expert noted that the West had reacted to that story in its own way after all.
"They responded by forcing Czechs to recall an incident seven years ago [about explosions at the ammunition depots in the settlement of Vrbetice in 2014] in order to somehow informationally cover up this shameful story for them. This is because in this situation you can’t get away from it anyhow," the expert went on to say.
In this regard, the expert recalled that one of the suspects in the government coup plot in Belarus was US citizen Yuri Zinkovich who had come from the United States "specially for allegedly meeting with Belarusian generals." "This is not a talk concocted out of thin air about Russia’s interference in the US political process. These are concrete and completely unprecedented actions actually for planning terrorist activity in the state allied with Russia. This cannot be dismissed or dumped in these stories about Russian GRU [military intelligence] operatives who allegedly blew up something seven years ago," the expert said.
On April 17, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and First Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and acting Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek announced the expulsion of 18 Russian Embassy employees, whom they called "officers of Russia’s SVR and GRU intelligence agencies." This was done over the allegedly newly discovered details of the 2014 explosions at the arms depots in Vrbetice. The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its resolute protest over this move taken under an "ungrounded and contrived pretext," and declared 20 Czech Embassy employees in Moscow personae non grata.
Government coup plot in Belarus
Belarusian President Lukashenko announced on April 17 that opposition politician Grigory Kostusev, political analyst Alexander Feduta and lawyer Yuri Zenkovich had plotted an assassination attempt on him and his sons. He placed responsibility for the plot on US special services and US leaders. According to Chief of the Belarusian KGB Ivan Tertel, "the plotters planned a coup for this summer, June or July."
Later on, the Public Relations Center of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that FSB officers had foiled the unlawful activity of dual Belarusian-American citizen Yuri Zenkovich and Belarusian national Alexander Feduta in a special operation with the republic’s KGB.
According to the FSB, the persons in custody were plotting a military coup in Belarus via a "color revolution" scenario, involving local and Ukrainian nationalists, in addition to physically eliminating President Lukashenko.