Lukashenko says Moscow 'thugs' may be behind embassy attack

A day after Russia strongly condemned an attack on its embassy in Minsk, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko retaliated by saying that "thugs and scoundrels" from Moscow may be to blame.

Unknown assailants threw two fire bombs onto the premises of the Russian Embassy in Minsk late on Monday. There were no casualties but one of the bombs hit a car. The incident sparked anger in Russia, with the Russian Foreign Ministry accusing "certain forces" of trying to "bring distrust and tensions to [Russia-Belarus] bilateral relations."

Lukashenko told journalists on Wednesday that a theory about Moscow's involvement in the incident was "interesting" and that police would investigate it.

"Most likely, they probably needed this incident. To demonstrate how bad Lukashenko is - why, he nearly carried out that "terrorist attack," as they put it, on his own. Thugs and scoundrels! There is nothing else I can say," the Belta state-run news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying.

He accused Moscow of orchestrating media attacks on him, apparently referring to a series of documentaries recently shown on the Russian TV, which portray Belarus as a country with political repression, no media freedom and rigged elections, ruled by "Europe's last dictator."

Lukashenko also said Russia had brought "unprecedented economic pressure" to bear on Belarus, but had failed in its aims.

"They failed. They wanted the [Belarusian] president to bend [to their will] - but they got just the opposite. Maybe they should try other methods," he said.

Relations between Russia and Belarus have been strained over a host of issues lately, including energy and the South Caucasus. Earlier in August the Kremlin accused Lukashenko of failing to honor a promise to follow Russia's lead in recognizing the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

MINSK, September 1 (RIA Novosti)


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