Belarus accuses Russia of electoral interference and seeks to negotiate | European news
The Belarusian leader claims that outside forces are supporting his opponents, disseminating information to discredit him.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Russia of interfering in his country’s presidential election campaign and of trying to discredit him.
Lukashenko, who ruled Belarus for 26 years and allowed little dissent, faces the biggest challenge in years to staying in power in the August 9 election as frustration mounts over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and grievances grow over the economy and human rights. man.
In comments made when appointing new ambassadors on Thursday, Lukashenko said outside forces stood behind his opponents, disseminating information to discredit him and his family members.
Lukashenko said he would discuss the alleged interference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he did not give a date.
“It is clear that the puppeteers are behind them. They are on one side and the other. They live in Poland and are supplied by Russia, ”he said. “We will discuss this with President Putin in the near future at a meeting.”
Belarusian sovereign bonds fell 2.5 cents after his comments.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Lukashenko’s allegations.
“Russia never has, is not and does not intend to interfere in electoral processes, especially those of our Belarusian ally,” he told reporters.
Relations between Belarus and its traditional ally, Russia, have been strained in recent months as Moscow slashed subsidies that have supported Lukashenko.
But Lukashenko’s crackdown on his opponents is likely to hamper his efforts to mend barriers with the West.
A senior security official under Lukashenko accused Viktor Babariko, considered by some to be Lukashenko’s most powerful electoral opponent, of being controlled by Russian “puppeteers”.
Babariko was the head of Belgazprombank, the local unit of the Russian bank Gazprombank, before running for president.
Lukashenko said that the bank’s money was being used to finance Babariko’s campaign and that the authorities opened criminal proceedings against the lender.
Babariko’s campaign team called the allegations against him “absurd.” He was arrested last week, sparking a new round of protests.
Human rights activists say 360 people have been arrested in a subsequent crackdown in recent days.