Moscow criticizes Minsk for detaining two Russian citizens

Russia rejects Belarus' charges that two Russian citizens detained in Minsk had tried to organize riots after the December presidential elections in Belarus, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The Belorussian Interior Ministry has accused the two Russians detained during protests after the Dec. 19 presidential elections of attempting to "create a criminogenic environment in the republic" and organizing riots.

In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry called Minsk's statement "inappropriate."

"This is nothing other than an attempt to artificially trigger anti-Russian sentiments in Belorussian society," the foreign ministry said.

Citing the Russian Embassy in Belarus, local reports also said Russia would continue closely following the situation surrounding its citizens arrested in Belarus.

"While the Russian side refrained from any comments following the completion of the investigation and the handover of the cases against the Russians to a court, the (Belorussian) Interior Ministry, on the contrary, made a rude statement on a matter that is sensitive to us with the support of the state controlled media," the embassy was quoted by local media as saying.

The detained Russians have denied active involvement in the unauthorized rally on Dec. 19. They also have denied accusations of making contact with presidential candidates, a conspiracy, or violent behavior against Belorussian police.

Incumbent Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko was elected to a fourth term in December. Several protesters were later detained during opposition rallies in Minsk.


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