Belarus lost 1.5 billion Belarusian rubles due to disputes with Russia, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said. He also called on Russia to “stop lying” about a group of detained Russians who, according to Belarusian investigators, are suspected of destabilizing the country as mercenaries. In his message to parliament and the people and delivered five days before Sunday’s presidential election, Lukashenko promised, among other things, that the average wage in Belarus would double over the next five years.
“In a stressful situation (coronavirus pandemic), unlike all over the world, we did not close down businesses and sent 500 million rubles from the state budget to those who mainly needed support from the state budget of 1.5 billion rubles,” the Belarusian president was quoted as saying by TASS.
Relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Moscow are tense, Reuters warned, noting that the two countries could not agree on a contract for the supply of Russian oil earlier this year. The agreement was concluded in April.
Until recently, Belarus received significant revenues from the processing of Russian oil, which it bought at a discount, and from the export of petroleum products. This year, Minsk also bought oil from Saudi Arabia and the United States to eliminate excessive dependence on Russia and diversify resources.
Lukashenko said today that Russia remains a Belarusian ally, although fraternal relations have turned into partnerships.
“Russia is afraid of losing us because it has no close allies left, and the West is interested in us. Our answer is known: Belarus is an enemy of someone against someone. We are for a consistently predictable multidisciplinary foreign policy. Russia has been, is, and will be our closest ally, whoever is in power in Belarus and Russia. This is an impossible factor, rooted deep in our nations, even though Russia has turned fraternal relations into partners. Unnecessarily! ” declared Lukashenko, according to TASS. At the same time, he added that Minsk would build “strategic partnerships with the West, America, China, our neighbors, and distant countries.”
Lukashenko also called on Russia to “stop lying” about the 33 Russian mercenaries recently detained in Belarus. “Those people (detained Russians) admitted that they had been sent specifically to Belarus. The order was to wait,” the president said, calling their deployment a “dangerous and strong signal.”
According to the Kremlin version, the detained Russians were only late on a plane from Minsk to a third country, where they were to work as security guards. Belarusian investigators suspect them of preparing mass riots. Lukashenko claimed to have been informed today that another group of mercenaries had been sent to southern Belarus to destabilize the situation. According to the AFP agency, he also criticized the attempt to organize a “massacre” in Minsk.
Belarus is facing presidential elections on Sunday, in which Lukashenko is running for a sixth term. In today’s message, the authoritarian president, who has ruled the country since 1994, promised compatriots that the average salary would double in five years. According to Lukashenko, the country has already “exhausted the ration of revolutions” in the last century. He also assured that he would not allow the redistribution of property, as his electoral rivals supposedly want.