Russia TV station announces attack on Belarus by Ukraine

Several TV channels in Lipetsk, Russia, scared Belarus residents late Monday, presenting as real a segment on military exercise and describing it as an attack on Belarus by NATO-assisted Ukraine.

According to the channels, refugees from areas bordering on Belarus started to come to Lipetsk as NATO countries launched an attack on Belarus from the territory of Ukraine.

Only later were the viewers told that the military attack was part of a scenario for the training of Russia interior ministry troops.

Fearing diplomatic backlash, reports on the attack were edited out of channels' sites, TK says.

"Today Lipetsk military have evacuated residents of Ukraine where a state of war was declared. NATO countries are attacking Belarus from the territory of Ukraine. A plane with refugees has landed at the LIpetsk airfield," such words began the segment shown by the state-run Lipetsk chas station late Monday. A similar segment was shown by another LIpetsk TV company, TVK Lipetsk.

The segment author, TVK Lipetsk journalist Oksana Korabelnykova, says the military training scenario about Ukraine attacking Belarus was told to her and other journalists who came to the airfield by Maj. Gen. Ryabchykov. The general spoke with cameras off and the journalist could only jot down his words.

It took Russian military all Tuesday to prove that Lipetsk journalists had misunderstood the words of the general, according to Russia Interior Troops spokesman Col. Vasilij Panchenko.

Col. Panchenko, however, didn't dismiss the scenario for training. "We may release some information and get a diplomatic note the following day. Let's leave our brothers [Ukrainians] alone - we have just started to patch up relations with them," he said. It is quite natural, the colonel went on, that the scenario is influenced by the fact that the exercise areas are close to foreign countries.

Tactical training of interior ministry troops are held between Apr. 13 to 17 in oblasts Moskva, Smolensk, Tula, Kaluga, Lipetsk, Tambov, Voronezh, Kursk and Bryansk under the command of Col. Gen. Aleksandr Lvov and Army General Nikolaj Rogozhkin.

It should be recalled that Georgia's Imedi TV station showed a similar segment a month ago announcing Russia's attack on Georgia, with the murder of Georgia Pres Saakishvili and Polish Pres Kaczynski whose plane was blown in mid-air on its way to Georgia. Only at the end of the segment the anchor explained that it was a likely scenario of future events. However, viewers who didn't pay much attention to the final words were stricken with panic. The segment provoked wide public reaction.


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