Belarus detained dozens of 32 members of a foreign private military company after receiving information that more than 200 fighters had entered the country to destabilise it ahead of a presidential election, the state-controlled Belta news agency claimed on July 29.
According to the report, the group came to Minsk overnight on July 25.
Ahead of the August 9 election, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko repeatedly claimed that some ‘foreign forces’ were planning to destabilize the situation in the country. For example in June, Lukashenko accused Russian and Polish forces of trying to discredit him.
Security forces also cracked down on opposition protests in recent weeks.
Belarusian media outlets claim that the group detained on July 29 was a part of the so-called private military company ‘Wagner’, which officially does not exist.
While the situation with the real motivation and goals of the group detained in Minks remains unclear, the Lukashenko government will likely use the situation to suppress any opposition to the current president during the election period. Minsk will also use it in its ongoing propaganda campaign against Russia recently increased in the country. Lukashenko aims to continue receiving financial resources and assistance from Moscow, but in fact his government does not act like Belarus is an ally of Russia.