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Live Updates: Belarus MoD Voices Protest to Lithuanian Military Attache Over Airspace Breach

On Saturday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that bringing the main part of the country's armed forces to full combat alert was his most serious decision in the past 25 years. This comes after the president declared victory in a highly-contested vote that sparked nationwide protests.

The Belarus Defence Ministry is protesting to the military attache of the Lithuanian embassy over a breach of Belarusian airspace and is awaiting proof to claims that an Air Force helicopter crossed into Lithuanian territory, the ministry said in a statement.

The Belarusian Defence Ministry said Monday that Lithuania had attempted to breach the country's airspace.

According to the ministry's Telegram account, the attempt, coming from Lithuania, was detected on Sunday at about 7:30 p.m. (16:30 GMT) near the village of Volkovschina in the north of the country.

"A monitoring device with eight balloons and anti-state symbols was launched from the neighbouring territory," the ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry is planning to send a letter of protest to Vilnius.

Mass opposition protests broke out across Belarus following a presidential election on 9 August that ended with Lukashenko declaring that he'd won a sixth term, citing election officials who said that he'd won over 80 percent of the vote, despite exit polls indicating far different figures. The opposition insists that its key contender, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, won the election.

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21:18 GMT 24.08.2020

MINSK (Sputnik) - The rally in support of those opposing the results of the Belarusian presidential election that was held on Independence Square in Minsk on Monday has ended, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene.

The rally lasted about 19 hours, with around 1,500 people participating at one point. Earlier, it was reported that about 300 people had gathered in central Minsk. No opposition politicians attended the event.

A police spokesperson told Sputnik that detentions were made during the Monday rally, but the exact number has not been verified yet.

Several people were detained when they refused to put white-red-white flags away at the request of police, before the majority of rally participants showed up.

According to a Sputnik correspondent, the protesters chanted slogans, and, from time to time, led by an unknown supporter of the opposition with a microphone, they walked around the square. Police officers predominantly did not interfere with what was happening on Independence Square in the Belarusian capital on Monday.

18:48 GMT 24.08.2020
16:35 GMT 24.08.2020
16:23 GMT 24.08.2020

MINSK (Sputnik) - The winner of the 2015 Nobel prize for literature, Svetlana Alexievich, was summoned last week to the Investigative Committee of Belarus as a witness in a criminal case launched over the creation of the opposition's Coordination Council, the committee said on Monday in a press release.

Investigators have already summoned a number of members of the council's presidium. Alexievich is also a member of the presidium.

"Svetlana Alexievich was summoned on Wednesday at 02:00 p.m. [11:00 GMT] to the Investigative Committee as a witness in a criminal case opened over the creation of the Coordination Council," the press release said.

The country's opposition refused to recognise the victory of President Alexander Lukashenko in the new presidential vote, creating the Coordination Council to oversee a transfer of power. Last week, the Belarusian prosecution opened a case against the council, claiming it aims to seize power and undermine the country's national security.

13:47 GMT 24.08.2020

"The discussion of the situation in Belarus was continued. Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the measures being undertaken to normalise the situation in the country", the Kremlin said in a press release.

13:43 GMT 24.08.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The destabilisation of Belarus was acknowledged as a possible lever for the destabilisation of Russia in a report by the US-based RAND think tank last year, Andrey Klimov, the head of the Russian upper house's commission on state sovereignty protection, told Sputnik on Monday.

"Back a year ago, the US-based RAND corporation released a report which claimed that one of the ways to destabilise Russia was to impact the situation in Belarus and its liberalisation," Klimov said.

The lawmaker added that Russian senators would discuss issues pertaining to the foreign interference in the situation in Belarus in mid-September.

13:40 GMT 24.08.2020

BRUSSELS, August 24 (Sputnik) - The Foreign Affairs Committee of theEuropean Parliament will hear Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya at an extraordinary video meeting on Tuesday dedicated to Belarus, the European Parliament said in a statement on Monday.

" MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] will debate the recent developments in Belarus after the 9 August presidential election with opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and EEAS [European External Action Service] Secretary General Helga Schmid," the statement read.

David McAllister, the chair of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, in turn, said that he was happy that Tikhanovskaya had accepted the invitation to give a statement.

The committee said earlier in the day that the EU lawmakers would reconsider the cooperation with Belarus within the Eastern Partnership framework during the meeting.

The extraordinary meeting is scheduled to take place via video conferencing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Brussels time (09:00-11:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

Tikhanovskaya is presently in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where she self-exiled shortly after the election day.

13:35 GMT 24.08.2020

Earlier in the day, Linkevicius held a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun and the sides discussed the current political crisis in Belarus among other issues.

12:59 GMT 24.08.2020

Earlier, Acting Deputy Commander of Belarus' Air Force Oleg Orlov said Belarusian pilots operated in the airspace of their country in compliance with law when responding to the attempted border violation by Lithuania. 

"My assessment is that the actions of our pilots were in absolute compliance with the Belarusian and international law. Our pilots were operating in the airspace of our country, which was documented in materials of objective control. There was no violation of Lithuania's state border," Orlov said in a statement, as quoted by the Belarusian Defence Ministry.

Belarus and Lithuania have exchanged accusations of an attempted violation of the bilateral border after the Belarusian air force intercepted what it described as a monitoring device on eight balloons with anti-state symbols, floated from the Lithuanian territory.

12:46 GMT 24.08.2020

"That would most unwelcome, but we do not have any indication", Biegun told reporters in Lithuania, when asked whether he had information about possible Russian military intervention.

Biegun added that he had held a meeting with former Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya during his visit to Lithuania.

"I did have a chance to meet with Mrs. Tikhanovskaya. She is a very impressive person and I can see why she is so popular in her country,” Biegun said during a news conference in Vilnius. “The purpose of the meeting was to listen, to hear what the thinking is of the Belarusian people and to see what they are doing to obtain the right to self-determination.”

Biegun also announced that Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius plans to visit the United States in the near future.

“I am looking forward, we all are looking forward, the Secretary of State is very much looking forward to welcoming the Foreign Minister to the United States soon,” Biegun said. “We expect that we will be able to create the conditions for safe travel as we did for this trip.”


12:11 GMT 24.08.2020
11:02 GMT 24.08.2020

"We are ready for any opportunities, at any level", a member of the council's executive committee, Pavel Latushko said, adding that there was no contact at the moment.

According to Latushko, Russia needs one more source of information about the Belarusian opposition — the opposition itself.

09:32 GMT 24.08.2020

"I can only repeat what we already said here. Indeed, we are still worried about some indirect and direct signs of foreign interference in Belarusian affairs. We consider this unacceptable and urge everyone to let Belarusians figure it out on their own", Peskov told reporters, when asked if Putin believed that foreign forces were destabilising Belarus to impact Russia.

The Kremlin has no communications channels or contacts with the Belarusian opposition, Peskov added.

"No, we have no communication channels, no talks, there are no talks. We do not know exactly the platform and the demands of the opposition yet. I would like to repeat that we are not talking about any statements that they make about the internal affairs of Belarus, we do not plan to get involved in that," Peskov told reporters.

The Kremlin has seen some documents "prepared by these people," which directed the foreign policy away from ties with Russia.

"Of course, we have a less positive attitude toward such forces. But I would like to repeat that we do not interfere. Of course, the politicians in Belarus who call for continuing ties and mutually beneficial relations between our allied countries are more appealing to us," the spokesman said.

08:40 GMT 24.08.2020

MINSK (Sputnik) - Executive director of the Belarusian coordination council Anton Radnyankov confirmed to reporters on Monday that two members of the council were detained in Minsk.

A non-criminal case was launched against Olga Kovalkova and Sergey Dylevsky, the press secretary of the Minsk police, Natalia Ganusevich, told Sputnik.

"They were in fact detained as part of the administrative investigation," the spokesperson said, without clarifying the misdemeanour.

08:39 GMT 24.08.2020

MINSK (Sputnik) - About 20,000 people gathered at an opposition rally in Minsk on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said.

In Brest and Grodno, there were no more than 3,000 people, the press service of the ministry said on Telegram.

The ministry reiterated that unauthorised rallies could result in penalties for participants.

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