Belarus Review by iSANS — July 01, 2024 

Belarus Review by iSANS — July 01, 2024
Photo: Andrew Keymaster on Unsplash


Belarus Review (2024 edition, issue 25)

A weekly update on the ongoing political crisis in the Republic of Belarus was prepared for you by the International Strategic Action Network for Security (iSANS).

The combat readiness inspection, which began on June 21, has continued. The Defense Ministry reported that units of the Armed Forces of Belarus began to carry out combat training tasks to search for, block, and destroy sabotage and reconnaissance groups of a conditional enemy, as well as to occupy defensive lines. They also practiced the issues of strengthening the border sections on the possible directions of illegal penetration into the territory of Belarus by armed groups of militants, blocking the channels of delivery of weapons and ammunition. Artillery units acted jointly with the Special Operations Forces. At the same time, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus presented the rehearsal of the military parade on July 3 as an activity within the framework of the combat readiness check. That is, an activity that had nothing to do with the combat readiness check.

The aggravation of the situation on the Belarusian state border started on June 28. Thus, the State Border Committee said that the Russian Volunteer Corps was in the area of responsibility of the Zhytomyr border guard detachment of Ukraine, close to the border with Belarus. It was claimed that in the Yelsk district of Belarus, after using “combat weapons and means of suppression,” Belarusian border guards stopped the flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle moving from Ukraine into the territory of Belarus. Moreover, the law enforcers discovered a cache with components for the manufacture of explosive devices. The video evidence of these events, presented by the State Border Committee, has all the signs of staging. On the same day, the Defense Ministry stated that a division of multiple rocket launchers “Polonez” with a full ammunition kit had been transferred to the border area next to Ukraine. All the above allows us to state that the State Border Committee together with the Defense Ministry of Belarus conducted a coordinated information and psychological special operation to aggravate the situation.

The escalation of the situation continued on Saturday, June 29. The deputy commander of the Special Operations Forces of Belarus stated that Ukraine was pulling troops to the borders of Belarus. He added that minefields created on the Belarus-Ukraine border were allegedly used to leave passageways for sending sabotage and reconnaissance groups into Belarus to carry out sabotage and terrorist acts.
The head of the Anti-Aircraft Missile Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus said that the situation in the airspace is tense. Due to an increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicle flights in the northern part of Ukraine conducting reconnaissance in the border areas of Belarus, as well as the accumulation of Ukrainian air defense forces in Zhytomyr Region, units of the Belarusian Air Defense Forces were additionally transferred to the Ukrainian border area to cover military facilities or civilian infrastructure.

Pavel Muraveika, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus, made several statements on June 29. According to the official, the situation on the southern border of Belarus is quite complicated and deteriorates every day. he added that special purpose units of the Ukrainian National Guard arrived in Ovruch (Zhytomyr region). According to Muraveika, such units “present real challenges, which are able to saturate our territory with sabotage and reconnaissance groups, are able to conduct provocations.” On Sunday, June 30, in an interview with state media, Pavel Muraveika added that there were ten NATO battalion tactical groups near the borders of Belarus and that Belarus was ready to use nuclear weapons “if the sovereignty and independence of our country is threatened”. Thus, the situation on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border continues to be aggravated by the Lukashenka regime. It cannot be excluded that it is a part of the information and psychological special operation (IPSO), conducted on the eve of the Independence Day celebration in Belarus on July 3. The possibility of direct interference in the situation by Russia is not ruled out. It should be reminded that in May, it was reported about the preparation of Belarus’ railroad infrastructure to receive echelons with Russian military personnel. The situation requires further close attention.

On June 24, at 10:30 a.m., two Su-24MR reconnaissance aircrafts of the Russian Aerospace Forces flew from Baranavichi airfield to Shatalovo airfield (Russia). The aircraft had been permanently stationed in Belarus since January 2023 and took part in joint tactical flight exercises between Belarus and Russia (January 2023 and May 2024).

On June 25, 11 MiG-29 and Su-35 fighters of the Russian Aerospace Forces flew from Kubinka airfield (Russia) to Baranavichi airfield. The aircrafts are part of the Russian Knights and Swifts aerobatic teams of the Russian Aerospace Forces. On July, 3 they will take part in a military parade. In total, as of June 30, 16 aircrafts and 11 helicopters belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces were deployed in Belarus.

On June 26, a meeting of the United Council of the Transport Troops of Belarus and the Railway Troops of Russia was held, based on the 30th Railway Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus. The results of cooperation in 2024 were summed up, and topical issues of further activities were discussed on the meeting.

In May-June, the Belarusian cargo airline Rada Airlines twice flew an Il-62 passenger plane from Orsha to Bamako, the capital of Mali. It is known that the remnants of the Wagner PMCs mercenaries are stationed in Mali. It is also worth noting that in October-November 2023, possible transportation of mercenaries from Belarus to Mali by planes of the Russian airline AbacanAir was recorded.

The effect of the restriction zone for flights of all types of civilian aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles) at altitudes from 0 to 19,800 meters in the south of Belarus has been extended from 00:00 on July 1 to 23:59 on September 30, 2024, according to NOTAMN O0380/24. The ban on flights over the southern part of Belarus was introduced on February 24, 2022, with the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was from the south of Belarus that missile strikes were launched onto the territory of Ukraine. Thus, the potential threat of missile attacks on the territory of Ukraine from the airspace of Belarus remains at least until the end of September 2024.


On June 24, the EU Council approved the 14th sanctions package in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The sanctions aim at further restricting the capabilities of Russia’s military industry and closing loopholes for sanctions evasion. In addition to targeting Russian entities and individuals, the new EU sanctions are imposed against the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) and its leader Aliaksandr Lukyanau for the involvement in the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children from Russia occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus. The sanctions list also includes the State Secretary of the Union State of Russia and Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev, the Director General of the Belarusian Optical-Mechanical Association “BelOMO” and “BelOMO” as a legal entity for supplying optics and parts to Russia’s military industry. Furthermore, the list includes 116 Russian legal entities and individuals, and targets especially Russia’s LNG market. The restrictions are imposed on 27 tankers of the so-called Russian shadow fleet and vessels used to transport weapons or stolen Ukrainian grain.

On June 25, Lithuanian media outlets reported that the prominent Belarusian activist Olga Karach, who heads the NGO Nash Dom [Our House] and who had been earlier denied political asylum in Lithuania but had been granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Karach’s lawyer stated that Lithuania’s decision not to grant political asylum to Karach is baseless. Lithuania has refused to grant the asylum to Karach due to her alleged connection to Russian special services.

On June 26, the leader of the Belarusian democratic forces and the Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrel in Brussels. Both parties discussed continued and increased support for Belarusian civil society, accountability of the Lukashenka regime, further work of the Belarus-EU Consultative Group; cooperation in countering propaganda and promoting the European alternative among Belarusians. The discussion also addressed the continued issuance of Schengen visas to Belarusians and assistance with the legalization of their stay in exile. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya emphasized the importance of open borders and the mobility of those residing in the country. At the end of the meeting, Josep Borrell proposed holding a Belarusian-European conference to address the crisis in Belarus. On the same day, a meeting of the Belarus–EU Consultative Group, a communication platform between the European Union and Belarus’ democratic forces and civil society, took place in Brussels.

On June 26, Valery Kavaleuski, the Representative for Foreign Affairs of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, announced on his Facebook page his stepping down from the position. Kavaleuski wrote that this decision was well thought and is made due to “differences in the strategic vision of ways to achieve the goals of the democratic movement, in the organization and tactics of conducting work, as well as in approaches to internal politics”. The statement reads that the most important work in achieving democracy and independence of Belarus is “working with Belarusian citizens, with Belarusian business, with Belarusian political structures and civic initiatives” which “is the most difficult, but also the most reasonable and promising way to achieve the goals of the movement: protecting the independence of Belarus, restoring state sovereignty, establishing a constitutional order in our country and transitioning to a democratic form of government”. After Kavaleuski’s resignation, Uladzimir Astapenka was appointed Representative for Foreign Affairs of the United Transitional Cabinet. The decision to appoint Astapenka was made by the Head of the United Transitional Cabinet Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

On June 26, the EU Ambassadors agreed on another sanctions package against the Lukashenka regime. Belgium, holding the rotating presidency of the EU, stated that as the official Minsk is enabling sanctions evasion and circumvention imposed against Russia through Belarus, the new sanctions package against the Lukashenka regime should close existing loopholes and create even greater pressure on Russia. Earlier this week, the EU Council approved 14th sanctions package against Russia.

On June 26, the news of a sudden death of the Former Belarusian Ambassador in Germany Denis Sidorenko was spread by the media. The statements read that the Ambassador died on June 23 and the official statement on his death was made by the Belarusian MFA only on June 26. There are several versions of the cause of death of the 48-year-old ambassador. One is that he died due to a heart failure, the other says that Denis Sidorenko committed suicide. Denis Sidorenko was the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Germany from 2016 to 2024. Aliaksandr Lukashenka dismissed the ambassador from his post by the Decree of March 11, 2024. According to the media, Sidorenko became the object of interest of the State Security Committee after his return to Belarus. According to Nasha Niva, Sidorenko was constantly called to interrogations and polygraph tests, this is why he didn’t hold the pressure and committed suicide by jumping from one of Minsk’s high-rises.

On June 27, Aliaksandr Lukashenka made a series of new appointments in the government of Belarus. The former Ambassador of Belarus to Russia, Dzmitry Krutoi, was appointed the Head of Presidential Administration, occupying an important position which had been vacant for several months. His experience of building ties with Russia indicate that Lukashenka wants more control and predictability in these complex relations and closer economic cooperation with the Kremlin. Aliaksandr Rogozhnik goes to Russia as Ambassador. Natallia Petkevich was appointed the First Deputy Head of the Administration. The task of Natallia Petkevich, an experienced apparatchik close to the KGB who worked in the 2000s as Lukashenka’s press-secretary and later held the position of the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration until 2014, who has been brought ten years later back to politics, appears to ensure that presidential elections in 2025 take place in an orderly manner and without any surprises unpleasant for the regime. Maxim Ryzhenkou became the Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing Siarhei Aleinik who has served in this post only a year and a half and has failed to lead a meaningful foreign policy, according to most observers. The most significant appointment is probably the one of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Maksim Ryzhenkou already worked at the MFA of Belarus in 1994-2006. According to observers, he is an ambitious person and has always wanted to take leadership positions in the MFA. In 2003-2005, he was an Adviser at the Embassy of Belarus in Poland (at the time Pavel Latushka was the Ambassador of Belarus to Poland) and from 2016 has served as the First Deputy Head of Lukashenka’s Administration. According to the Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet Pavel Latushka, Ryzhenkou’s appointment is a message to the West. The politician considers that Ryzhenkou is the diplomat that could establish certain contacts with the West. Moreover, such contacts already exist as, according to Latushka, a representative of the office of the French President Emmanuel Macron went to Belarus and there are constant phone conversations between Ryzhenkou and the French Presidential Office. According to the former Representative for Foreign Affairs of the United Transitional Cabinet, Valery Kavaleuski, “Maxim Ryzhenkou is very energetic, a generator of ideas, he can be safely called a superhawk in Lukashenka’s entourage. He is very anti-Western, and this can be traced through his entire career. He is brave, ready to engage in this confrontation”. According to Kavaleuski, Lukashenka’s foreign policy will be more bellicose now, to win back his positions through force, through shouting where necessary. “Ryzhenkou in this sense is very suitable for this position,” said Valery Kavaleuski. According to an iSANS expert, Ryzhenkou’s appointment shows that Lukashenka has lost remnants of his interest in restoring relations with the West and does not count on resuming serious dialogue.

On June 28, it was announced that South Korea expanded its sanctions list against Russia and Belarus by adding 243 items to the list of goods prohibited from exports into Russia and Belarus, because of their possible military use. Such goods are for example metal cutting equipment, optical device parts and sensors. The list includes a total of over 1.4 thousand items.

During the debate on the CNN channel, U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden touched upon the topic of the war in Ukraine. In his argument, President Biden stated that “Putin is a war criminal, and he won’t stop in Ukraine. Putin himself said he wants to re-establish a Soviet empire. He doesn’t want a part of Ukraine; he wants the whole Ukraine. If he wins there, then what will be with Poland and Belarus? And with NATO countries?”.


The Brest Regional Court held a hearing in absentia on June 24, at which it found six defendants – activists and bloggers – guilty. These are Andrey and Olga Pavuk, Marharyta Liauchuk, Aliaksandr Chakhouski, Ilya Salenkou and Uladzislau Navazhylau. They were charged with, among other, inciting discord, slander, insulting Lukashenka, financing extremist activities, creating an extremist formation or participating in it. Andrey Pavuk was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment in a high-security colony with a fine of five thousand basic units (around 57,000 Euro), Olga Pavuk was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment with a fine of two and a half thousand basic units (around 28,500 Euro). Marharyta Liauchuk, Ilya Salenkou and Uladzislau Navazhylau were sentenced to terms of from six to eight years of imprisonment with a fine from 500 basic units to 800 basic units (around 5,700 –  9,100 Euro). Aliaksandr Chakhouski was sentenced to three months of arrest.

Political prisoner Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk was assigned another, fourth, psychiatric examination. Three previous examinations have shown that her mental health is normal. Earlier, it became known that in the first five months of this year, she spent 70 days in a punishment cell. Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk was detained in January 2021. She was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for insulting Lukashenka, a representative of the government and violence or threatening a policeman with violence. Later, her term was extended twice — cases on charges of disobedience to the colony administration were opened against her. She was supposed to be released on May 21, 2024, but two days before the release she was transferred to a pre-trial detention center within the framework of a new criminal case on charges of malicious disobedience to the colony administration.

The Belarusian doctor Uladzimir Martau, who was detained in Russia on May 14, was extradited to Belarus. He is in a pretrial detention center in Vitsebsk. A criminal case has been opened against him on charges of participation in the activities of an extremist formation. The reason for the arrest was his interview to one of the independent Belarusian media. In 2020, as head of the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care at the Vitsebsk Emergency Hospital, Uladzimir Martau openly criticized the position of the authorities regarding the coronavirus pandemic and spoke about the real epidemic situation and the problems of doctors.

The Belarusian Republican Youth Union, one of the main participants in the deportation of Ukrainian children from illegally occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus, was included in the 14th package of EU sanctions against the Russian Federation. “The Belarusian Republican Youth Union has been involved in subjecting children to re-education and political indoctrination, as well as coordinating practical aspects such as the housing of children within Belarus. Therefore, the Belarusian Republican Youth Union is supporting materially actions which undermine and threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” was stated in the Council Decision (CFSP) 2024/1738 of 24 June 2024, amending Decision 2014/145/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

The verdict delivered with regard to the leader of the Naftan trade union, Volga Britsikava, became known. Back on April 8, the Vitsebsk Regional Court found her guilty behind closed doors of inciting social hostility and sentenced her to three years of imprisonment. She has already started serving her sentence. Recently, Britsikava was added to the list of persons involved in extremist activities. This means that additional restrictions on the purchase of goods, correspondence and visits with relatives will be imposed on her in the colony. Volga Britsikava worked at the Naftan enterprise for 16 years, but was fired because of her trade union activities and defending her civic position. She was repeatedly detained for speaking out against the war and distributing “extremist” materials.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on international partners to ensure access to prisons and the release of all political prisoners in Belarus. “You and I must become the voice of political prisoners – and speak about them even louder than we do now, so that the whole world can hear,” she said. “Many of the political prisoners are held in isolation. We don’t know anything for 487 days about Ihar Losik, for 492 days about Maryia Kalesnikava, for 498 days about Maksim Znak, for 497 days about Mikalai Statkevich, for 501 days about Viktar Babaryka, and for 470 days about Siarhei Tsikhanousky”. The regime is doing everything possible so that political prisoners are forgotten. But we won’t let that happen. I know that our solidarity will definitely destroy the walls of the prison,” Tsikhanouskaya said.

The US State Department released the 2024 Trafficking in Persons Report. Belarus was included in the list of 13 states in which “the policy or practice” of human trafficking was confirmed. The report noted that Belarus has taken some steps to combat human trafficking. At the same time, the authorities “forced thousands of people suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, as well as political prisoners and people leading an “antisocial lifestyle” to perform a wide range of jobs in “occupational therapy centers”. The report emphasized that Belarus authorities facilitated the deportation of Ukrainian children to Belarus. They also continued to facilitate the entry into Belarus and further travel of many migrants from third countries and asylum seekers who arrived in the country as part of state-sponsored migration, which increased the vulnerability of these migrants to human trafficking. Repressions against civil society and restrictions on the activities of organizations providing support to victims of human trafficking were also mentioned.

Belarus and Russia continue to be the negative leaders of the Torture Prohibition Index. It was published by the Working Group on Combating Torture of the Civic Solidarity Platform. The index allows to assess the degree of implementation of the prohibition of torture in each country by dozens of parameters. These parameters combine measures related to normative regulation, as well as measures related to its implementation in practice. The index of Belarus has been consistently low for the last two years. On the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture, June 26, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya commented that “it seems impossible that in 2024 we have a conversation about torture. Unfortunately, these are the realities of Belarus. The government tortures all dissidents. To lose freedom for at least a few days, to be without medical help and information from the outside, without contact with loved ones is a torture for a person. But political prisoners are being tortured most of all: huge sentences on trumped-up charges, terrible conditions of detention, isolation from the outside world. There are more than 1,500 political prisoners behind bars.
At least six people are held incommunicado, without communication with the outside world. [..] All this leads to tragic consequences: six political prisoners have been driven to death in their cells by the regime.”

On June 27, the U.S. State Department presented the 2023 Report on International Religious Freedom. It stated that over the past year, the Belarusian authorities continued to restrict religious freedoms by persecuting clerics and religious groups involved in pro-democratic movements and opposing the war. The authorities detained religious leaders, controlled social networks, and denied clergy visits to political prisoners. It was also noted that in July 2024, a new law comes into force in the country, further restricting religious activities.

Fyodar Paulyuchenka, editor-in-chief of Reform independent media, was awarded the Krzysztof Michalski Prize for Belarusian journalists in exile. He won the award in the “Investigative Journalism” nomination for the investigation “‘Agent on the Remote’. How Siarhei Vasilieu escaped from the KGB to Poland, and then returned and went to prison for 11 years.”

The delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus was not allowed to participate in the 31st annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, held from June 29 to July 3 in Bucharest. Earlier, Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Radu Filip said that the delegations of Belarus and Russia would not be able to participate in the session. The decision was based on “Romania’s well-known and consistent position towards the Russian Federation in the context of the ongoing aggressive war against Ukraine, as well as Belarus, which supports the war unleashed by the Russian Federation.” The measure was extended to all members of the delegation — parliamentarians and technical staff. Belarusian delegation passed a statement noting MPs are “extremely indignant” by the Romanian authorities “deliberate disruption” of the delegation’s participation in the session, “contrary to all the basic OSCE commitments and principles”.


When congratulating European figures on the occasion of various holiday dates during the period under review, Aliaksandr Lukashenka once again tried to demonstrate his desire for “dialogue and negotiations”. For example, in his congratulations on St. John the Baptist Day on June 24, Lukashenka invited Fra John Dunlap, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, to Minsk, promising him “support for constructive, creative initiatives” on the “hospitable Belarusian land”. iSANS expert Anton Hluski suggested in a comment for that Lukashenka is “flirting” with the Order, because he would like to use it to take part in the negotiation processes on Ukraine. And the Lukashenka’s address on the occasion of the national day of Slovenia  stated that he counts on “a sincere dialogue and cooperation” with the people of Slovenia, despite of “foreign hurdles and artificially created barriers”.

On June 24, propagandist and diplomat Aliaksandr Shpakouski blamed Ukrainian government for a missile attack on Sevastopol and terror attacks in Dagestan: “A despicable attack by the Kyiv regime using American missiles on the city of Sevastopol, which killed civilians, including children” and suggested that “all terrorists are controlled from a single center”. In his opinion, both events took place within the framework of “tasks to destabilize the situation in the Russian Federation, spread panic and protest sentiments against the authorities”.

On June 24, Siarhei Aleinik, who held the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus at the time, stated before his negotiations with the Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov that Belarus “was and remains with Russia, for better or worse”. Following the meeting, the Belarusian minister stated that since “a small group of Western countries is desperately trying to preserve dominance and the old order, for which all means, including military ones, are used, Belarus and Russia stand “back-to-back” in the struggle against the unprecedented political, economic, and now already military pressure of the collective West”. Aleinik said that Belarus and Russia “will strengthen cooperation in the field of historical memory with a focus on patriotic education of young people”. He expressed confidence that within the framework of such interaction the parties would counter “falsification of history, justification, and ‘exhumation’ of Nazism”, as well as protect the “heroic memory of ancestors”. Also, after the talks with Lavrov, Aleinik told reporters that the Belarusian authorities were ready to talk to Poland about “de-escalation” of the so-called migration crisis on the border, which is actually an element of the hybrid war of Russia and Belarus against Poland and the EU as a whole. “If Poland is ready for [talks on] this, at least on the issues of cross-border cooperation that has been curtailed on the initiative of the Polish side and other European partners, then we are ready to discuss these topics. But, of course, on an equal and mutually respectful basis,” he said, not failing to note that illegal migrants allegedly “flee from those countries where the same Poland participated in military operations not so long ago”.

On June 24, the EU imposed sanctions against the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) and its chair Aliaksandr Lukianau. Lukianau told Russian state information agency RIA Novosti that he and his associates are proud to be on “such an authoritative and representative” sanctions list, along with State Secretary of the Union State Dmitri Mezentsev, singers Shaman, Polina Gagarina and others. He noted that the sanctions will not affect the activities of the BRSM in “helping children of Donbass and providing humanitarian aid to DNR, LNR, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson region.” Propagandist Aliaksandr Shpakouski called the EU’s actions “a theater of the absurd” and personally reproached the EU head of diplomacy Josep Borrell: “…the elderly inhabitants of the ‘Garden of Eden’ applaud those who kill children (supplying deadly weapons, pointing missiles) and discriminate against those who save lives”, and also called the EU leadership “fascist bureaucrats”. MP Vadzim Hihin went even further, calling the EU sanctions against the BRSM “pure satanism”. He believes that the BRSM “can only be congratulated for such a high evaluation of its activity”, because, in his opinion, “if scoundrels and scumbags censure you, it means that you are doing a good deed”.

On June 28, Lukashenka’s press secretary Natallia Eismant on air of Belarus-1 told that it is planned to launch a new information TV channel in the country. In her opinion, the new TV channel will be significant for the whole media sphere of the country. According to her, the channel will have many live streams and cover the most important political events. Eismant hopes that someday Lukashenka will write memoirs, in which he will share his experiences. “Very many people approach me with a question about a book that the President would write. It is clear that now, time is not for writing books, and we do not even approach the president with this question. But we all realize how important this is. This is the first president of our country. And what he knows, of course, no one else knows. I hope very much, I believe it very much, that such a book or a series of books will see the light of day someday”. The iSANS team has already reported that in June, Aliaksandr Karliukevich, head of the pro-government Union of Writers of Belarus (UWB), supported the idea of publishing a collection of Lukashenka’s selected works. Mikalai Charhinets, honorary chairman of the Union of Writers of Belarus, said that someone should give Lukashenka the idea to start writing books because “the people need them very much”.

On June 29, the delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus to the OSCE PA made a statement in connection with its exclusion from the 31st Annual Session in Bucharest, calling it “an example of blatant bias and discrimination”. “Approaches that deprive full members of the opportunity to present their national positions undermine the international authority and the foundations of the organization itself. In this regard, the Belarusian side does not recognize the decisions that may be taken during the session regarding Belarus due to the refusal of the country hosting the assembly to enter its territory,” the statement reads. Earlier, Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Radu Filip said that the delegations of Belarus and Russia would not be able to take part in the OSCE PA session in the context of the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.

On June 30, in an interview with ONT TV channel, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Pavel Muraveika described his vision of the situation on the border of Belarus with Ukraine and of Belarus with the EU. He notes “the active movement of Ukrainian forces, periodic drone flights across the border, the processes of mining and construction of engineering barriers,” as well as the presence of “more than 20 thousand NATO soldiers near the border of Belarus.” He once again stated that Russia has deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which he called a “deterrent factor”. “We have learned how to handle these weapons. We know how to apply it confidently. We are capable of doing this and, you can be sure, we will do it if the sovereignty and independence of our country is threatened,” he stated. This interview is widely replicated by both Russian state media and pro-military telegram channels. On July 1, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov also took up the topic of “the issue of the concentration of Ukrainian troops at the border with Belarus,” calling it “a cause for concern not only for Minsk, but also for Moscow,” since the two countries are “allies and partners.” “Belarus is a [member of the] union state, we have special formats of dialogue between all relevant departments, including special services. And our defense ministries are in constant partnership contact,” he stressed. iSANS continues to closely monitor the attempts of Belarusian and Russian propagandists to develop the topic of “a possible attack by Ukraine and NATO on Belarus” and promote it among the public. We note that similar rhetoric was observed against the background of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February-March 2022. At that time, the Kremlin claimed that Russia had launched the so-called “special military operation” to protect the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” from alleged aggression from Ukraine (Vladimir PutinMaria Zakharova) and eliminate the military threat that Western countries allegedly pose to the Russian Federation (Vladimir PutinSergey Shoigu).

Best regards,
iSANS team

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