Belarus denies UN claims of mercenaries in Libya

Belarus’ Foreign Ministry has denied claims made by the United Nations that mercenaries from the country are operating in Libya, calling the allegations “untrustworthy,” according to reports.

“In this respect, it is necessary to recall the unfounded accusations [against Belarus] of supplying military helicopters to Ivory Coast that ended with U.N. officials offering official apologies to Belarus,” Andrey Savinykh, a spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry told online news outlet BelaPAN. “We will demand an official investigation of the U.N. in connection with this new situation on Libya.”

Hundreds of foreign fighters, including some from Belarus, were “likely operating for both Muammar Gaddafi's regime and the rebels in Libya, and many may be involved in serious human rights violations,” The Associated Press quoted Jose Luis Gomez Del Prado, the head of a U.N. working group on the use of mercenaries, as saying Friday.

Del Prado’s comments come after the U.N. claimed in late February that Belarus had delivered three attack helicopters to the Ivory Coast in violation of a U.N. arms embargo. The U.N. later retracted the claim and apologized to Minsk for the embarrassing incident.

Earlier this month, the Belarusian Foreign and Defense ministries denied another media report of Belarus’ military presence in strife-torn Libya.

“There are no Belarusian military experts in Libya and there cannot be any,” Savinykh said in a statement on April 6.

The Defense Ministry’s press office was also quick to deny the report, dismissing it as provocative and untrue. “Only one military serviceman is present in Libya and that is the Belarusian embassy’s military attache,” the press office said.


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