The head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) called ongoing anti-government protests targeting the pro-Russia president of Belarus the result of alleged U.S. efforts to inspire a coup against Alexander Lukashenko.
Reuters reported Wednesday that Sergei Naryshkin made the comments to Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian state-run news service targeting foreign audiences.
“According to the SVR’s information, the United States is playing a key role in Belarus,” Naryshkin was quoted as saying. “Essentially we are talking about a poorly disguised attempt to organise another ‘colour revolution’ and an anti-constitutional coup, the goals and objectives of which have nothing to do with the interests of Belarusian citizens.”
State Department officials did not immediately return a request for comment on Naryshkin’s claims. The agency has released a statement condemning reports of opposition leaders facing abductions and attempted forced deportations and warned that the U.S. will consider sanctions against Belarus’s government in response to further anti-democratic actions.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the reported abduction September 7 in Belarus of Coordination Council member Mariya Kalesnikava, Spokesman Anton Rodnenkou, and Executive Secretary Ivan Krautsou, and the attempted forced expulsion over the border to Ukraine September 8,” the State Department said earlier this month.
“The United States, in coordination with our partners and Allies, is considering additional targeted sanctions to promote accountability for those involved in human rights abuses and repression in Belarus. We remind the Belarusian authorities of their responsibility to ensure the safety of Ms. Kalesnikava and all those unjustly detained,” the agency added.
Belarus has been the site of months of protests against Lukashenko’s government, which has been in power since 1994 and is accused of violently suppressing demonstrators. The European Union does not recognize him as the country’s legitimate president following contested elections earlier this year, but he has maintained a relationship with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia: US trying to foment revolution in Belarus The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association – Pence lauds Harris as ‘experienced debater’; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep US must demand equal access to Russian airwaves MORE‘s government, which has vowed military support for the country if necessary.