08/18/2020, 09.00
BELARUS - RUSSIA
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Truckloads of Russian soldiers are heading to Belarus

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Videos posted online and analyzed by the Conflict Intelligence group confirm troop movement. Lukashenko (and Putin) cite the "threats" of Lithuania and NATO. Protests and strikes across the country. In Minsk, the president is silenced by the slogans “Leave! Get out!". In Russia, too, there are supporters of the protests in Belarus.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Numerous Ural and KamAz trucks without license plates or other distinctive signs were noticed yesterday on the highways that connect Moscow to Belarus. The trucks are identical to those  being used by the Rosgvardija, the Russian national guard.

The vehicles were heading towards the Belarusian border, according to the conclusions of the Conflict Intelligence group which analyzed the videos circulated on social media (https://youtu.be/y5Yiruy0NXk).

Several journalists have also published information on this, such as Vasily Maximov, who filmed 30-40 trucks west of Smolensk, about 80 kilometers from the border with Belarus. Some videos were released as early as August 16, even with images of soldiers inside the trucks; Rosgvardija executives refused to comment on this information.

In recent days, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko had two telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The latter promised him "all the help necessary to ensure the Belarus security in the event of external military threats", alluding to possible interventions by Lithuanian forces, or even by NATO. The Kremlin press officer has expressed Moscow's concern over "external pressure" on the Belarusian protests. However, the Belarusian armed forces have begun "training maneuvers" near the Lithuanian borders.

Meanwhile, protests and strikes against the disputed elections have continued in the country for nine days. The grandiose demonstration on August 16 further reinvigorated the participation of all categories of people, revealing what some observers call "an incredible and very rapid growth of the national civil conscience". In Minsk, stocks of white and red fabric have been exhausted, to make the "authentic" flags of Belarus, as opposed to the "Soviet" red-green ones imposed by Lukashenko.

Yesterday's strike was extended to the whole country, including the main industrial giants. The strikers' requests are the cancellation of the elections of 9 August and the calling of new elections, with the admission of all candidates, together with free access to information sources and the unblocking of the internet, an end to police violence and the resignation of President Lukashenko with the entire electoral committee, accused of fraud. The union of journalists from the state channels also went on strike, and even many policemen lowered their shields to embrace the demonstrators.

Lukashenko went to the tractor factory in Minsk (photo 2), to meet the strikers who greeted him with shouts "Leave!" and "Shame!" (photo 1). The president's speech was dramatically ineffective, to the point of threatening the crowd: "There will be no elections until you kill me ... if you eliminate the first president, our country will be destroyed!". Lukashenko has promised to "give up part of his powers, but not under pressure from the streets".

 

The defeated candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaja, in "exile" in Lithuania, declared in a new Telegram video that she is ready to play the role of leader of the country in this difficult period, and that she wants to organize new elections, this time free and fair. Rejected candidate Valerij Tsepkalo, on the other hand, announced the opposition’s willingness to grant immunity to Lukashenko and his family members if the president agrees to voluntarily step aside.

In Russia, there are many supporters of the Belarusian protests, including in areas already in turmoil such as the Khabarovsk region and the Far East, but also in various unpredictable settings, such as among football fans. Added to these were the protests of the defenders of the Šikhan Kuštaj mountain in Baškortostan in the Urals (photo 4), where the government plans to level to install industrial plants. The Baskiri demonstrators also expressed solidarity with Belarusians.

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