News Update


Lukashenko tells BBC that there are no winners after the Wagner mutiny.

Alexander Lukashenko made the deal that put an end to the Wagner mutiny. We’re told this.

So, if anyone can bring clarity to this dark story, it must be the leader of Belarus. Or so we hope.

We are part of a small group of journalists who have been called to the Palace of Independence in Minsk for “a conversation” with Mr. Lukashenko.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a lot of talk about his health. But it’s clear that the leader of Belarus is strong. “Conversation” goes on for almost four hours.

He doesn’t shed light on the current Russian uprising, though. Instead, he makes things more confusing.

As part of the deal between the Wagner Group and the Kremlin, Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and some of his fighters were meant to move to Belarus.

We haven’t seen that happen. At least not yet.

“As of this morning,” Mr. Lukashenko says, “the very serious Wagner fighters are still in the camps where they went after Bakhmut.

“Yevgeny Prigozhin, on the other hand, is in St. Petersburg. Or maybe he flew to Moscow this morning. Or maybe he’s not there at all. He’s not in Belarus, though.”

I ask Alexander Lukashenko if that means we can’t make the deal.

He says no to that. It seems like there are talks happening behind the scenes that we won’t be told about.

Moscow and Minsk haven’t exactly been on the same page when it comes to talking about the mutiny.

Last weekend, Russian state TV said that these exciting events had made President Vladimir Putin a hero.

Mr. Lukashenko tells me, “I don’t think anyone came out of that as a hero.”

“Not Prigozhin, not Putin, not Lukashenko. No one stood out as a star. What can we learn from this? If we make armed groups like this, we need to keep a close eye on them and take them very seriously.”

The “conversation” goes on to talk about nuclear weapons. Especially the nuclear bombs that Russia says it is sending to Belarus.

Mr. Lukashenko had recently said, “God forbid I ever have to decide to use them, but I won’t hesitate to use them.”

I tell him about what he said.

“Joe Biden could say the same thing, and so could Prime Minister Sunak,” Mr. Lukashenko says in response. “And my good friend Xi Jinping and my big brother, President Putin.”

“But we’re not talking about your weapons here,” I say. “Those ones are from Russia. It’s not up to you to decide.”

The Belarusian leader responds, “In Ukraine, a whole army is fighting with foreign weapons, isn’t it?” “Weapons of NATO. Because they don’t have any more. So why can’t I fight with tools that belong to someone else?”

I say, “But we’re talking about nuclear weapons, not pistols.”

“Yes, it’s atomic. They are also tools. “Nuclear weapons that can be used in battle.”

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Alexander Lukashenko is a controversial person, as you might have guessed from what he said about nuclear weapons.

The US, the EU, and the UK all say that he is not the rightful president of Belarus. In 2020, many Belarusians took to the streets to say that he had stolen the country’s election for president. The protests were violently put down.

I talk about the case of Maria Kolesnikova, an opposition leader who is in jail.

“Her family and lawyers haven’t been able to see her in jail for months. Why?” I ask.

“I don’t know anything about this,” he says.

I tell Mr. Lukashenko, “The last time I talked to you, in the fall of 2021, there were 873 political prisoners in Belarus.” “There are now 1 500.”

“There is no article in our criminal code for political crimes,” he says.

I point out that just because there isn’t a piece on political crimes doesn’t mean there aren’t any political prisoners.

“If there’s no article, prisoners can’t be political prisoners,” he says. “What are they?”


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