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Tim Korso. Sputnik International
The president showed up at a rally of his supporters in Grodno following two weeks of opposition-organised protests and strikes in the country. Lukashenko accused foreign countries of funding the riots with the aim of ousting him under the made-up pretext of rigging the election.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has revealed why he hesitated so long to address his supporters, saying that he had foreseen the possibility of clashes between them and demonstrators backing the opposition. Answering a question from an RT correspondent after a rally in the western Belarusian city of Grodno on Saturday, the president said:
“I tell you honestly – I knew it’d end this way [confrontations between rival demonstrators]. I feared there would be clashes in that troubled period of time and [the opposition] was preparing for it […] That’s why we took a pause”, Lukashenko said.
He admitted that he might have taken too long of a pause and thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for apparently helping him realize this fact.
“I must say ‘thank you’ to my friend Putin, who asked me ‘Listen, why are you keeping mum?’ I answered him – ‘you will hear from me soon’. Well, now you have heard”, Lukashenko added.
The Belarussian president said earlier in the day that he and Putin agree that the current protests in the country are a prelude to similar attacks against Russia and hence must be stopped.
The protests emerged across the country following the presidential election in which Lukashenko received a little over 80% of the vote. Opposition forces, led by former candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, claim that the president rigged the election and demand that he step down from the post and hold a new election. The president, in turn, alleged that the protests are sponsored from abroad in order to stage a coup and mobilised the country’s forces, redeploying them to the western borders to repel any attempt to breach it.