Date: 30 September 2020

Macron meets Tsikhanouskaya, further western sanctions, Russian intelligence chief warns

On Tuesday, September 29, Minsk hosted the Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia. Due to coronavirus pandemic, the Russian delegation participated in it only remotely. The presidents of both countries spoke during the Forum. Alexander Lukashenko announced that Belarus is ready to talk to Russia about all proposals that strengthen economic security. The Ambassador of Belarus to Russia confirmed that both countries have resumed talks on the road maps for deeper integration within the Union State. The Prime Minister of Belarus stated on Tuesday that trade contracts worth USD 700 million and about 70 agreements were signed during the forum. In a video recording played during the Forum, Vladimir Putin said that Belarus has been under “unprecedented external pressure” since the August presidential election. The Head of Russian intelligence – Sergei Naryshkin, who provided more “information,” spoke in a similar manner. The Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) stated that the USA plans to include “extremist elements” in the protests in Belarus and that such activists are being trained in Poland, Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic States. Naryshkin said that a provocation against the Catholic Church is being prepared. “The USA wants to involve the Vatican, so far showing moderation, in the events in Belarus,” said the Head of SVR. Meanwhile, the West is demonstrating support for the Belarusian opposition and rejects the Lukashenko’s regime. On Tuesday, September 29, the President of France, who is visiting Lithuania, met with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Vilnius. Emmanuel Macron assured that he will do everything in his power to support the Belarusian people. The crisis in Belarus was one of the main topics of the two-day official visit of the French President to Lithuania. Macron said that fighting this crisis also requires “dialogue with Russia, talks with Vladimir Putin.” While Macron paid a visit to Lithuania, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus announced that Minsk is introducing sanctions against the Baltic States in response to their restrictions. On August 31, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia announced sanctions lists, including Alexander Lukashenko and 29 other Belarusian officials. On September 25, the list was extended by another 100 people. On September 29, the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on the President of Belarus, his son and six other high-ranking members of the Belarusian regime. The introduction of sanctions was coordinated with Canada, which restricted the same people. The sanctions include a travel ban and asset freeze of Alexander Lukashenko, his son Victor Lukashenko and Igor Sergeyenko – the Chief of Staff to the President. Other individuals subject to sanctions comprise: the Minister of Internal Affairs – Yuri Karayev, his Deputy and Chief of public security police – Alexander Barsukov, another Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Commander of internal troops – Yuri Nazarenko, his Deputy – Khazalbek Atabekov and the Commander of the Special Purpose Police Unit (OMON) – Dmitry Balaba.

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