Updated at 00:49,21-11-2017

Belarusian authorities wary about external reactions to persecution of Belarusian combatants in Donbas

Belarus in focus

President Lukashenka has spoken strongly against the presence in Belarus of militants who fought in Ukraine on one side or the other, and requested the security forces to immediately investigate the situation. The Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has initiated a check against 16 Belarusian citizens on suspicion of involvement in the fighting in Ukraine. Earlier, KGB representatives reported about 52 Belarusians fighting in the neighbouring country. According to the Belarusian secret services, the long-lasting conflict in the east of Ukraine and participation in hostilities of Belarusian citizens has led to an increase in illicit arms trafficking in the Belarusian regions. The Belarusian authorities particularly worry about this due to the open border with Russia, which could be used by the conflicting parties to transport weapons both ways. So far, the Belarusian authorities have only used threats and tightened the legislation with regard to militants as a preventive measure and have not started criminal investigation. Most likely, they fear of sharply negative assessment of their actions in Russia and Ukraine.