The Russian Side of the Murky Story in Belarus

04 Aug 2020

(EDM) The presidential elections in Belarus were expected to be a tightly controlled affair, resulting in a convincing victory, on August 9, for the incumbent, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has firmly retained power since July 1994. The plan, however, unraveled as a result of the remarkably strong campaign conducted by the opposition. And on July 29, the political dynamics took a shocking and even bizarre turn when 33 Russian mercenaries of the private military company (PMC) Wagner Group were detained in a sanatorium just outside Minsk and charged with the intention to organize mass unrest (RBC, July 30; see EDM, July 30). The story continues to develop, and its impact on the outcome of the elections will become clearer next week. But the first Russian official responses and explosion of commentary in Russian media provide useful insight into the character of current relations between Belarus and its “big-brotherly” neighbor. [...]

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