Belarus’s authoritarian chief, Alexander Lukashenko, has ordered his defence minister to take “stringent measures” to protect the rustic’s territorial integrity after mass protests in opposition to his declare to election victory.
The 65-year-old, who mentioned he gained a 6th presidential time period with 80% of the vote within the nine August poll, made the feedback on Saturday whilst examining army devices in Grodno, close to Belarus’s border with Poland, in step with the president’s press provider.
Lukashenko denounced the hot mass protests, which he mentioned have been receiving strengthen from Western nations, and ordered the military to protect western Belarus, which he described as “a pearl”.
“It comes to taking probably the most stringent measures to give protection to the territorial integrity of our nation,” Lukashenko mentioned.
Opposition figurehead Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the election, mentioned Lukashenko’s feedback have been an try to “distract consideration from our internal issues”.
Tikhanovskaya steered pro-democracy protesters to maintain the momentum, announcing Lukashenko had “no selection” however to have interaction with the opposition.
“I’m so happy with Belarusians now as a result of after 26 years of concern they’re in a position to protect their rights,” she mentioned in Vilnius, at the eve of what are anticipated to be mass protests in Belarus on Sunday.
“I name them to proceed, to not prevent, as it’s in reality necessary now to proceed to be united within the combat for the rights. They’ve to remember that we aren’t a protest motion. We’re other folks of Belarus and we’re a majority and we will be able to now not step away. We aren’t frightened of them any further.”
Lukashenko’s talk over with to Grodno got here forward of large-scale army workout routines deliberate within the area between 28-31 August.
The previous collective farm director mentioned that Nato troops in Poland and Lithuania have been “significantly stirring” close to their borders with Belarus and ordered his troops into complete struggle readiness.
Each nations denied the accusation, whilst Nato referred to as the claims baseless. “As we’ve got already made transparent, Nato poses no danger to Belarus or every other nation and has no army buildup within the area,” it mentioned in a remark.
Lithuania’s president, Gitanas Nausėda, instructed AFP: “The regime is attempting to divert consideration from Belarus’s inside issues at any value with completely baseless statements about imaginary exterior threats.”
The Polish president’s leader of body of workers, Krzysztof Szczerski, disregarded the declare that Poland deliberate to violate Belarusian territorial integrity as regime propaganda, calling it “unhappy and unexpected”.
“Poland … has no such purpose,” he instructed the Polish information company PAP.
Lithuania’s international ministry introduced that US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun will talk over with Vilnius and Russia subsequent week for talks on Belarus and the election fallout.
He’s making plans to satisfy with Tikhanovskaya, her representatives instructed AFP.
Warring parties of Europe’s longest serving chief have organised moves and the most important demonstrations within the ex-Soviet nation’s contemporary historical past to protest his re-election and insist that he stand down.
The opposition has referred to as for a big rally in Minsk on Sunday, after greater than 100,000 other folks flooded onto the streets of the capital and different towns in Belarus closing weekend difficult Lukashenko’s resignation.
The Ecu Union this week rejected his re-election and vowed to levy sanctions in opposition to what it mentioned was once a considerable collection of other folks chargeable for rigging the vote and cracking down on protests.
The Belarusian government have opened a felony investigation into the opposition’s coordination council, whose individuals are in search of new elections and a relaxed transition of energy.
Lukashenko has rejected the theory of preserving every other poll, disregarded calls to surrender and accused the opposition of making an attempt to snatch energy.
On Friday he vowed to “clear up the issue” of the protest motion.
Tikhanovskaya mentioned this week that Belarusians would “by no means settle for the present management once more” after the crackdown on post-election protests.