Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the West of interfering in Belarus as he met Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has faced months of protests over his disputed reelection.
Lavrov held talks on November 26 with Lukashenka and other top officials in the capital, Minsk, in the latest display of Moscow’s support for Lukashenka’s regime.
Thousands of protesters demanding Lukashenka’s resignation have taken to the streets of Minsk every weekend since an August 9 election that saw the 66-year-old strongman, who has been in power since 1994, claim a sixth term in office.
Protesters believe that 38-year-old opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who took her jailed husband’s place in the presidential race, was the true winner.
Moscow has continued to back Lukashenka since the protests erupted, with several meetings between senior officials from both sides in recent months.
Speaking at a press conference with his Belarusian counterpart Uladzimer Makey, Lavrov accused the United States and several European countries of “gross interference” in the domestic affairs of Belarus.
“The wise Belarusian people are able to sort themselves out without any outside prompting and intrusive offers of unsolicited mediation,” Lavrov said.
Lukashenka has claimed that Western countries are orchestrating the demonstrations and conspiring to have him removed.
Lavrov said the West is “using dirty methods of so-called color revolutions, including manipulating public opinion, supporting forces that are openly anti-government and promoting their radicalization.”
Western leaders have refused to recognize the results of the election and threw their support behind Tsikhanouskaya, who left Belarus for neighboring Lithuania due to security concerns for her and her family.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on Lukashenka and a number of his allies citing election rigging and a violent police crackdown on demonstrators.
Belarusian security forces detained thousands of protesters in the first days of the demonstrations.
They have continued to regularly arrest protesters and members of the opposition.
There have also been credible reports of torture during a widening security crackdown.
Most of the country’s opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country.