Eva Antonenko
29 July 2020 19: 13
Headings: Policy

Lukashenka's trick, the "hand of the Kremlin" or an accident: what did the fighters of the PMC "Wagner" do in Belarus?

We understand the vicissitudes of a high-profile scandal

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Lukashenka's trick, the Kremlin's hand or an accident: what did Wagner PMC fighters do in Belarus?

Today, 32 fighters of a Russian private military company (PMC) were detained in Belarus, who allegedly came to the country to disrupt the elections. The event could become the biggest scandal between Belarus and Russia in recent years.

Chronology of events

On July 24 Alexander Lukashenko declared: “…all wars now begin with street protests, demonstrations, then Maidan. To the Maidan, if there are no people of our own (we don’t have enough “Maidanists”), they will be pulled up from the outside. These are professional military men, bandits who are specially trained, mainly as part of PMCs around the world, and earn big money on provocations in certain states».

On July 26, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus Andrei Vtyurin (formerly head of the Presidential Security Service) was sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting a bribe to promote the interests of a Russian company. He was the leader of the pro-Russian wing of the security forces in the country.

And on July 29, members of the Russian PMC Wagner were detained. At the same time, attention was paid to them for interesting reasons: everyone was dressed uniformly - in military style (the soldiers did not disguise themselves as civilians), behaved uncharacteristically for Russian tourists - did not drink alcohol, kept apart. Judging by the video recording of the detention, they were wearing patches with the words “Our business is death and business is going well”, instructions for using personal protective equipment and a leaflet in Arabic.

At the same time, according to reports in law enforcement agencies, information was received about the arrival of more than 200 militants in Belarus to destabilize the situation during the election campaign (where the rest of the fighters, given that the 33rd was detained in the south of Belarus, is still an open question).

Later it was announced that the detainees were fighters of the Russian private military unit "Wagner", some of whom were identified as fighters of the "DPR" and are on the lists of the "Peacemaker" website.

Possible reasons for the presence of fighters in the country


Viktor Babariko. Source: Belta

The doubt about the official version of the presence of the fighters in the country is caused primarily by the fact that they did not try to hide their presence in any way, which is why they could easily fall into the hands of the Belarusian security forces.

This detention looks like a provocation aimed at discrediting Lukashenka's opposition candidate Viktor Babariko, who, due to his work as chairman of the board of Belgazprombank and connections with Gazprom, is considered as a pro-Russian candidate.

The rhetoric of the Belarusian media speaks in favor of this version: in the plots, there are only direct accusations against Russia in an attempt to disrupt the elections in the country or even in the intention to carry out a coup.

On the other hand, the fighters could come to perform some task, for example, to ensure the protection of events, groups of people, or stay in the country for the purpose of transit to other countries (Belarus is a transit point for Russian military personnel).

Materials on the topic

Lukashenka's trick, the Kremlin's hand or an accident: what did Wagner PMC fighters do in Belarus? - photo 2

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Election tactics of the Belarusian authorities

There is currently no open sociology in Belarus, which is why there is no “battle of sociologists” familiar to Ukraine, and the information campaign of the incumbent president is based on opposition to both the West and Russia.

Under such conditions, Lukashenka can position himself as the only candidate who defends the interests of the country: Viktor Babariko is associated with Russia, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is associated with Western anti-Russian forces (she is against the Union State with Russia, and is also the wife of opposition blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, whose political strategist is Vitaly Shklyarov is an American and Russian political consultant, an adviser in the election campaigns of Obama and Sanders - representatives of the US Democratic Party, Merkel and Sobchak).

Based on this scenario, if Lukashenka manages to provide indisputable evidence of external - primarily Russian - interference in the internal affairs of the country, he will be able to reasonably fend off the opposition on the issue of his “pro-Russianness”.

How Belarus can take advantage of the situation

Now the authorities of Belarus will be able to justify harsh measures against opposition representatives precisely by possible upcoming provocations in the elections. The political weight of Lukashenka in the country is also increasing: evidence of possible external forceful interference in the elections has been officially provided, which means that Lukashenka can position himself as a patriot who opposes external forces and defends national interests.

This event will help the Belarusian authorities to discredit any anti-government protests.

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