Putin invites Belarusian hijacker Lukashenko for tea –

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Putin invites Belarusian hijacker Lukashenko for tea – fr


LONDON – Rumors in Moscow continue to suggest that Vladimir Putin has had enough of his out-of-control Belarusian sidekick. The relationship has always been strained and Alexander Lukashenko has imprisoned Russian soldiers and critics who pushed for closer ties with Russia, but Vladimir Putin is not about to side with the West in an outbreak .
Dozens of world leaders have condemned Lukashenko for ordering a fighter jet to force a Ryanair flight to land at an airport in Belarus so that a prominent opposition journalist and his girlfriend can be arrested. Days passed, but the Kremlin spoke little of the unprecedented and wildly incendiary hijacking of an airliner. Instead, Putin responded by inviting the last European dictator to visit him at his residence in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi later this week.

As of yet, it is unclear whether Russia was aware of the plot to anchor the aircraft in advance or if it even participated in the project. “It is easy to suspect that the four mysterious Russian citizens on board the plane that Lukashenko shot down were FSBs; and that it was a Russian-Belarusian joint special operation, ”Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin told The Daily Beast.

If Putin was in the plot, which could only provoke international outrage, it poses even more questions to the Kremlinologists. Did Putin do everything possible to save his main ally in western Russia? Or was it a cunning ploy to ultimately isolate Belarus from its European neighbors and force Minsk to join Moscow?

Britain apparently suspects that Russia was indeed involved. “I will be careful what I say at this point,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said. “It is very difficult to believe that this kind of action can be taken without at least the agreement of the authorities in Moscow.”

According to the Belarusian opposition, at least five Russian citizens were traveling from Athens to Vilnius on the plane with Roman Protasevich, a prominent 26-year-old journalist who helped disseminate anti-Lukashenko information from outside Belarus during of the uprising against thefts last year. election.

The Belarusian KGB arrested one of those Russians, Protasevich’s girlfriend Sofia Sapega, when the Ryanair flight came to a standstill on Sunday. She is now behind bars at Minsk’s most notorious prison, Okrestina, and authorities said on Tuesday she would be held for two months.

Even with a Russian jailed, the Kremlin spokesman declined to comment. Is the Kremlin involved in helping Russian citizens in Belarus? “Not the Kremlin. We have aviation authorities, it is their responsibility, ”Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

It’s not even clear that Moscow could squeeze Sapega out if Putin wanted to free her. Sapega’s mother appealed to Putin, asking for easier access for diplomats and lawyers to see her daughter on Tuesday.

Lukashenko – who has been in power since 1994, six years older than Putin – threw a pro-Russian presidential rival in jail last year after he emerged as a real threat. Viktor Babaryko, who headed Gazprom’s local Kremlin-controlled banking subsidiary until he entered politics, has denied being a Russian stooge but had close ties to Moscow.

In February, Lukashenko said he “wanted to spit” on Babaryko after months of protests against his regime were suppressed with Putin’s help. “Putin cannot remove his own Babaryko from Belarusian prison, what about Protasevich,” editor-in-chief of independent Moscow Echo radio Aleksey Venediktov told Telegram.

Putin must find the best way to control an unruly ally.

“This is one of the situations where the Kremlin doesn’t know what words to use. Lukashenko has turned Belarus and its successful Belarusian airline, Belavia, into pariahs, ”said Olga Bychkova, a Moscow-based political analyst.

“Moscow cannot send someone like [Putin henchman Igor] Sechin to rule Belarus, it has to be a local guy; right now they have no other choice, ”she told the Daily Beast.

Russian politicians have debated what to do with the Belarusian leader and his scandalous regime for years – even before he began to lose his grip on the country.

On the surface, Moscow has done everything to demonstrate that Lukashenko is a sovereign ruler and his closest ally, not an embarrassment. Putin hugged him in front of the cameras and took the Belarusian leader on a ski trip in February, just months after Lukashenko ordered the arrest of 33 Russian soldiers in Minsk. Lukashenko hinted that Russian mercenaries planned to meddle in the Belarusian presidential election last August, which Lukashenko won with 80 percent of the vote.

Last month Lukashenko claimed he was the target of Western plotters. This time, he claimed that the American leadership was planning to assassinate him and his son, and to deploy NATO forces in Belarusian territory. The FSB, the Russian Federal Security Service and the Belarusian KGB issued statements saying there had been a joint special operation to prevent a military coup.

Amid the frenzied reaction to the Ryanair incident, Lukashenko desperately searched for a fall guy. First, he claimed that Hamas was somehow involved in demanding a Gaza ceasefire, even though a Gaza ceasefire had already been agreed.

Two days later, he claimed that “the bad guys from outside the country had changed their methods of attacking us.” Less than 24 hours after the Kremlin confirmed the Putin-Biden summit in Geneva, Lukashenko said Minsk received false information about a bomb on the plane from Swiss authorities.

These claims of being the target of international plots play directly into Putin’s personal obsessions. He often speaks of US-organized coups – citing revolutions in Libya and Ukraine.

The murder of old comrade Muammar Gaddafi, in particular, still haunts him. “The whole world saw it. The drones, including American ones, launched a strike on his procession, ”he declared. “Then the commandos, who weren’t supposed to be there, brought in so-called opposition and militants. And killed him without trial.

Putin was convinced that the West was preparing the same fate for the Ukrainian leader, Victor Yanukovych. During the revolution in Ukraine, Putin said he was ready to put Russia’s nuclear weapons into combat. “We were ready to do it,” he said later. Putin admitted that he personally ordered his men to help Yanukovych escape, first to Crimea and then to Russia. “Otherwise, he would simply have been killed,” he said in a film produced by the Rossiya-1 television station.

The Belarusian leader has had ample opportunity to refine his appeals to Putin over the years. “Lukashenko used Moscow to stay in power. He deftly manipulates the Kremlin in the most cynical way, using Putin’s support for his economic and political advantages, while Russia gets no profit from him, ”Yashin told The Daily Beast.

One area in which Putin is likely to applaud Lukashenko is his latest crackdown on independent media. After changing the law on Monday, journalists are now banned from providing live coverage of opposition rallies and publishing the results of social polls without government approval. According to the Moscow-based human rights group Vesna, there were already more than a dozen journalists behind bars in Belarus before Protasevich was uprooted from the sky.

Lukashenko will travel to Sochi this week to remind Putin that his nation is the last former Soviet stronghold on Russia’s western border and that this week’s events will only make him more loyal to the Kremlin. For now – as analyst Bychkova explains – “Moscow is stuck with Lukashenko.”

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