Mr Lukashenko, who has a reputation for erratic behavior and wild claims, announced on Tuesday that he was infected with the coronavirus but had recovered completely without treatment. That announcement was met with skepticism as it played into its long-standing position that the pandemic poses no serious danger to public health and could be kept at bay by drinking vodka, riding tractors and playing the game. ice hockey.
In June, Mr Lukashenko had two rival candidates in the August 9 presidential election in Belarus arrested on corruption charges, claiming he had cracked a piece to foster a revolution by Russian interests.
On Wednesday, the government released a video of a night raid this week on a sanitary near Minsk, where 32 Russian fighters were arrested; another was arrested in a different part of the country. The video showed heavily armed officials from Belarus’ security service – still called, as in Soviet days, the KGB – ending up in guest rooms occupied by alleged mercenaries. This showed a number of handcuffed Russians, one of them lying on the floor in boxers, Russian passports and a stack of $ 100 bills.
But items seized in the raid also included bank cards and phone cards from Sudan and texts written in Arabic, suggesting that the arrested Russians may have been on their way to or from North Africa, rather than on a mission aimed at Belarus.
The arrested Russians, according to a Belta report, aroused suspicion upon arrival in Belarus because each man had three heavy luggage, wore military-style clothing and behaved in ways “not characteristic of Russian tourists,” which stop the alcohol and avoid nightclubs. .
The Wagner Group, the clothing mercenary accused of employing men, sent fighters, mostly veterans of Russia’s armed forces, to Syria, Libya, Sudan and several other countries. According to U.S. officials, this is controlled by Mr. Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef” because of his success in winning catering contracts by the Russian military.