‘Russia worried about foreign interference in Belarus crisis’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was worried about foreign interference in the ongoing crisis in Belarus that stemmed from the results of the disputed election held earlier this month, which were in favour of the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko,

“Nobody hides that it is all about geopolitics, about the struggle for the post-Soviet space,” Lavrov said in an interview with television channel Russia 1 on Wednesday.

“We saw this struggle in the previous stages of the development of the situation after the Soviet Union ceased to exist,” he said.

Belarus is engulfed in mass protests after Lukashenko won a sixth term during the August 9 elections, with the opposition refusing to recognize the results, reports Xinhua news agency.

Lavrov said he hopes that Belarusians will be able to sort out their own affairs themselves and not be led by “those who need this country solely in order to master the geopolitical space in order to promote the well-known destructive logic: You are either with Russia or with Europe”.

“I see no lack of readiness on the part of the authorities for dialogue.

“I hope that the same readiness will be shown by those who, for one reason or another, are not satisfied with the election results,” the Minister added.

In the election, Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, won 80.1 per cent of the votes, while the main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya garnered only 10.12 per cent.

Tikhanovskaya, who left for Lithuania after publicly denouncing the results, insists that where votes were properly counted, she won support ranging from 60-70 per cent.

In a video message released on Monday, Tikhanovskaya said she was ready to become a “national leader” in order to restore calm and normality, freeing political prisoners and preparing for new elections.

Lukashenko has sought Russian help, saying President Vladimir Putin has promised to provide comprehensive assistance in the event of any external military threat.

In a conversation on Sunday, the two leaders discussed “the situation in Belarus, taking into consideration the pressure the republic was being put under from outside”, the Kremlin said.