The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman said on Thursday that Moscow has seen evidence of outside meddling in the unrest currently engulfing neighboring Belarus. But Maria Zakharova said Russia is not one of the guilty parties.
The diplomat told a briefing that “unprecedented pressure” is being exerted by individual foreign actors. She insisted that their goal is to destabilize the situation and split society in the landlocked Eastern European country.
At the same time, however, Zakharova emphasized that Moscow is concerned about the violence witnessed on the streets of Belarusian cities and towns since last Sunday’s controversial presidential elections.
She added that Russia is seeking the resolution of issues surrounding 33 Russian private security contractors who were arrested in Minsk last month.
“We expect that professional cooperation by the investigative committees, prosecutor generals’ offices and other agencies of the two countries will help clear up the situation involving the detention of 33 Russian citizens as soon as possible,” she said. “It is important to stress that the attempts to find a ‘Russian connection’ to the latest unrest in Belarus are groundless.”
Instead, Zakharova cryptically noted that “there have been signs pointing in a different direction.” Related evidence, she disclosed, has been shared with the Belarusian side and is also obvious to the public at large.
“We have observed unprecedented pressure exerted on Belarusian authorities by some foreign partners. There are clear attempts of foreign interference in the affairs of a sovereign state to split society and destabilize the situation,” she added, going on to emphasize that Moscow has witnessed these tools employed in other countries many times.
Attempts to spoil relations between Russia and Belarus are bound to fail, Zakharova continued. “Russia has been and will remain a reliable ally and friend of Belarus and the fraternal Belarusian nation. We are confident that any attempts to cause a rift between us are bound to fail,” she said. “We urge everyone to show restraint and prudence. We reaffirm that we are interested in a stable domestic political situation in Belarus. We hope that the situation in that country will stabilize and return to normalcy soon.”
Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Minsk to hold new presidential elections, adding that this time, in his opinion, international observers should be present.