- “There was no poisoning of Navalny,” Lukashenko told the Russian Prime Minister.
- Lukashenko, who has since refused to engage his opponents, has the solid support of Russia.
- Alexei Navalny’s top aide, Leonid Volkov, has however dismissed Lukashenko’s claims, terming them ridiculous.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says he has solid proof to the effect that the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was merely ”stage-managed” by Western powers as a way of discouraging Russian President Vladimir Putin from getting involved into Belarus’ affairs.
Lukashenko’s new twist to the saga comes following the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement on Wednesday that Navalny, who is currently hospitalized in Berlin in a coma, was poisoned by a “Novichok-type” neurotoxic agent.
The Western powers pressured Moscow to explain themselves, but the Kremlin said it saw “no reason” to accuse the Russian state, and asked that no “hasty conclusions” be drawn about the poisoning of the key opposition politician.
Lukashenko, who made the rather damning allegations upon receiving Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in Minsk on Thursday stated that his intelligence services “intercepted” a telephone call between Warsaw and Berlin, which proves that Alexei Navalny’s case is nothing but stage-managed “forgery.”
“There was no poisoning of Navalny,” Lukashenko told Mishustin during their televised meeting. “They did it – I quote – in order to discourage [Russian President Vladimir] Putin from sticking his nose into Belarus’s affairs,” he added.
Lukashenko also said that he will forward the transcript of that call to Russian security services.
Lukashenko, 66, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, is facing an unprecedented protest movement against his re-election in the August 9 presidential election. The opposition, as well as western powers, denounced the vote as “fraudulent.”
Lukashenko, who has since refused to engage his opponents, has the solid support of Russia, its main ally and economic partner. The European Union maintains that the elections in Belarus were rigged in favor of Lukashenko, and are preparing sanctions on senior officials of the Lukashenko-led regime.
Alexei Navalny’s top aide, Leonid Volkov, has however dismissed Lukashenko’s claims, terming them ridiculous. He accused the Russian prime minister of “being an accomplice in the assassination attempt.”
The Belarusian president highlighted, on the other hand, the “progress” in the relationship with Russia. “I am very grateful to you for the last weeks and maybe even a month or a month and a half when we have been conducting intensive negotiations between governments,” he said, addressing the Prime Minister.
“We agreed with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] even before the election about this. And, as Roman Alexandrovich [Golovchenko, Belarusian Prime Minister] reported to me yesterday, you have made significant progress in resolution of those issues, acute for us,” he added.
The delegation of the Russian government included the Minister of Finance, Anton Siluanov, who discussed with his Belarusian counterpart the country’s debt to Moscow, which amounts to $1 billion (€845 million). Mishustin’s visit to Minsk precedes Lukashenko’s visit to Moscow, which, according to the Kremlin, will take place in the “next few weeks.”