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Belarus defense minister: Evidence shows US plotted coup in my country

The file photo, taken on June 29, 2018, shows Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko delivering a speech outside Minsk. (By AFP)

Belarus’ defense minister says there is “irrefutable” evidence of the involvement of the United States in a coup attempt in the European country.

Viktor Khrenin said on Wednesday that Belarusian investigators now know that US government agencies were involved in preparations for a coup in Belarus.

"A couple of months ago… the joint operation of Belarusian and Russian intelligence thwarted a coup attempt involving the physical elimination of the head of the Belarusian state and members of his family,” Khrenin said in a video address at the ninth Moscow Conference on International Security.

The investigation revealed “irrefutable” evidence of US state agencies’ involvement, he added.

In April, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said a coup and assassination attempt against him and his family had been thwarted.

He said foreign intelligence services, most likely “the FBI, the CIA” were involved.

Lukashenko won a sixth term in office in the August 2020 presidential election. His main political rival, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, protested the result, claiming there had been voter fraud.

Western governments came out in support of Tsikhanouskaya, repeating the allegations of vote-rigging.

The European Union announced on September 15 the same year that it did not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus.

The president rejects fraud allegations, blaming Western countries for orchestrating demonstrations that followed the election and conspiring to oust his government, which has secured a lifeline $1.5 billion loan from Russia.

On Monday, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada imposed a bunch of new sanctions on Belarusian entities and officials in a coordinated response to the grounding of an intra-EU flight in Minsk.

On May 23, the Ryanair plane had to make an emergency landing at the Minsk International Airport, following a reported bomb scare that proved to be a false threat later.

A MiG-29 fighter was scrambled to escort the airliner, giving rise to initial reports that the airliner had been forced to land.

Belarus released a transcript of communications between the Minsk air traffic control and the Ryanair flight, in which the crew is told, "You have a bomb on board," and urged to land in Minsk.

Belarusian law enforcement authorities detained dissident figure Roman Protasevich, the co-founder of a Telegram channel that is viewed as extremist by the government, as well as a female companion identified as Sofia Sapega, after the plane was diverted to the Minsk airport. The Belarus state TV said Protasevich had confessed to organizing “riots.”

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