Moscow Insists on Cooperation With Belarusian Law Enforcement Over Detained Russians

MINSK (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 01st August, 2020) Moscow keeps insisting that Russians recently detained in Belarus be released and the Belarusian law enforcement authorities cooperate with Russia on the matter, Ambassador in Minsk Dmitry Mezentsev said on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, Belarus announced that 33 Russians, allegedly employees of private military company Wagner Group, had been detained on suspicion of plotting mass riots on its soil in the run-up to the presidential election. On Friday, Russia was granted consular access to its nationals.

“We insist … on the speedy release of our citizens and close cooperation with the law enforcement agencies of Belarus and lawyers … I want to reiterate that those claims and ambiguous interpretations of the reasons why our citizens have been on the territory of the Republic of Belarus look unfounded and far-fetched, and cause extreme surprise. There are no facts that allow us to believe that these people were ready to undermine public order. So far, the Belarusian side has not presented them,” Mezentsev told reporters.

According to the ambassador, the meeting between the consular staff and the arrested Russians lasted from 10:00 p.

m. (19:00) on Friday to 5:00 a.m. (2:00) on Saturday. The diplomat noted that the consuls “asked all the questions that they had to ask” regarding the purpose of the Russian nationals coming to the Belarus, their travel plans, conditions of detention and the documents that the law enforcement had presented to each of them.

Mezentsev specified that the Russians are suspects under articles 293 and 13 of the criminal code of Belarus, which means that they are suspected of plotting mass riots, but there is no reference to any terrorist activities.

“I emphasize that it is impossible to agree with this, because there are no grounds, and no facts have been presented that confirm such a suspicion,” he added.

Commenting on the issue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that the detained Russians are believed to be staffers of a private security firm who were using Belarus as a transit point and were due to go to Istanbul but had missed their flight. The Kremlin has said that the detained Russians had “nothing to do with Belarus or any Belarusian affairs.”

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