Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 27 April 2021
Coup Plot In Belarus Is Lukashenko’s Provocation
New details on a purported plot to kill the Belarusian leader confirm one thing: this is nothing but a provocation made up by Belarusian and Russian services. What Lukashenko said is somewhat unbelievable while any evidence submitted so far seems neither credible nor coherent.
The Russian and Belarusian presidents discussed the alleged planned plot at their latest meeting. Also while addressing the Russian parliament, President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Lukashenko’s claims of an assassination plot and earlier had mentioned them in a phone call with Joe Biden, according to what the Belarusian leader said. A story of alleged plans to kill Lukashenko surfaced on April 17. According to the FSB statement that came out first, Russian authorities detained Yuri Zenkovich, a lawyer who has dual American-Belarusian citizenship, and Alexander Feduta, a well-known Belarusian literature scholar and political commentator, accusing both of planning an assassination plot against Alexander Lukashenko. The Belarusian president confirmed these claims shortly after while the Belarusian state broadcaster aired footage to add credibility to the whole story. In a nutshell, from what Moscow and Minsk said, a group of Belarusian opposition members reportedly made a deal with some army officers to conduct a coup, topple or even assassinate Lukashenko, detain his associates, and siege the capital to stop riot police and interior troops. What served to authenticate the plot were some excerpts of some supposedly revealing footage showing a meeting between Feduta, Zenkovich, and reported Belarusian “army generals”––who say nothing and whose faces are blurred, thus it is not known who they are––in a Moscow restaurant. Subsequently, the televised footage presented captured fragments from a Zoom conference where Feduta and Zenkovich talked with five other Lukashenko opponents, based mostly outside Belarus. What both Minsk and Moscow showed as evidence is little convincing. The video showing a conversation between Lukashenko’s opponents and an alleged discussion on the leader’s fate are mere speculations––and not proof for the purported coup. Perhaps Belarusian agencies used some minor opposition activists like Feduta and some others to discredit the opposition. Many signs are that some officers played their role as willing to talk about the toppling of Lukashenko just to hear an intention to stage a plot against the president. That looks like a provocation that tricked Feduta and a few other people. The regime will make use of the footage to trigger a fresh wave of repression against the opposition while––more importantly––reported “opposition” members in the state army could unleash purges among its top officers.
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