The Guardian (Charlottetown)
Russia asks Belarus to release security contractors
MOSCOW — The Kremlin said on Friday it hoped that more than 30 Russian private security contractors detained in neighbouring Belarus and accused of plotting acts of terrorism would soon be released.
Russia a day earlier demanded an explanation over what it called Minsk’s wrongful arrest of the group, an incident that risks worsening already strained relations between Belarus and traditional ally Moscow.
Belarus this week detained the group of Russian men near the capital Minsk, saying it had received information that over 200 fighters had entered the country to destabilise it before an Aug. 9 presidential election.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that the men were travelling to another country via Belarus and had nothing to do with Belarusian politics.
“The baseless arrest of Russian citizens, 33 citizens, is not quite in line with our relationship as allies,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “This is why we hope that our Belarusian allies will clarify this incident in the nearest future and that our citizens will be released.”