“I would say they fear possible escalation of protests, their massive scale and the most important thing they seek today is prevention of the massive scale of the protests, this means they want to be rather rough in suppressing the actions, including use of force,” Andrey Yegorov, the head of the Belarusian-based European Transformation Center, told BNS.
He said Lukashenko’s words about a few dozen armed fighters allegedly trained in Lithuania or Poland did “not contain a mote of truth,” and this, along with protests was a sign for the Western world to revise its policies of resuming the relations with Belarus.
In Yegorov’s words, a large-scale protest is scheduled to take place in Minsk on March 25, the informal Day of Freedom in Belarus, which could bring together tends of thousands of people. He said the administration was intensively preparing for the day “by fueling hysteria in the media about alleged armed fighters.”
Vytis Jurkonis, lecturer of the Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute, seconded his opinion, saying that Lukashenko’s statements were killing two birds with one stone: warning participants of the March 25 protests about the administration’s reaction and placing safeguards for justification of potential aggression against the protesters.
In his words, there have been episodes when Lukashenko criticized Swedish or German diplomats, as the Belarusian president’s rhetoric is targeted at countries useful at the time.
Earlier on Tuesday, t he Belarusian hard-line president stated that Lithuania and Poland could have been training fighters who were behind provocations in his country.
“The other camps were located in Ukraine (and), it seems to me, in Lithuania or Poland – I won’t insist on this, but somewhere there. The money was coming here via Poland and Lithuania,” Belarus’ state-run news agency Belta cited Lukashenko as saying in Mogilev.