Russian and Belarusian state sources are alleging that a major assassination and "coup" attempt of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has been thwarted by security services, which has further been dubbed in state media as an "armed insurrection" attempt which may have had the backing of the United States.
However, details surrounding the alleged 'plot' remain murky and it doesn't appear that anything actually close to an 'insurrection' ever got off the ground. Instead, multiple Belarussian officials were reportedly arrested on vague suspicions of treasonous plotting. Russia's FSB is also widely reported to have detained two conspirators in Moscow for their association with the plot.
"Several people, including two in Russia, have been arrested for allegedly plotting an armed insurrection against the Belarusian president," RT describes of the Belarusian media reports. "He claims that the US may have sanctioned the assassination attempt."
It comes after prior months of growing protests against the longtime autocrat, and after pro-democracy opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya from exile urged for more opposition to Lukashenko's rule in the streets after a security services crackdown of the past months.
Europe's "last dictator" - as Lukashenko sometimes calls himself, recently claimed victory and was sworn in for a sixth term last September after already being 24 years in power, which set off the widespread protests.
Here's more of RT's description of the alleged anti-Lukashenko coup plotting:
The existence of an alleged plot to kill Lukashenko, other top Belarusian officials, and even their family members was revealed on Saturday. In Minsk, the national broadcaster ONT ran a story naming suspected conspirators and exposing their plans. The report offered as evidence several clips of what appears to be Zoom meetings between them.
Russia Arrests Two Alleged Belarus Coup Plotters https://t.co/Wk8PcwOmwz— The Voice of America (@VOANews) April 18, 2021
And some of the details discussed among the officials were said to be captured by a hidden recording:
The plan discussed at the meeting, as described by the FSB, involved killing "almost the entire leadership" of Belarus, a military coup, and a power blackout of the entire country. "It was suggested that the active phase would be launched by some armed groups (‘partisans’), who are currently stationed at 'secret bases'," the FSB reported. The action was reportedly scheduled for May 9, when Belarus holds a military parade dedicated to the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Hidden camera footage of what appeared to be the meeting in Moscow was aired by the ONT in its expose. In it, Zenkovich and Feduta detailed their suggestions on how to conduct a successful armed coup. They said Lukashenko needs to be "disposed of" and at least 30 in Minsk – presumably top officials – need to be "interned literally within the first hour."
In a subsequent televised address, the Belarusian leaders explained: "we detained the group [of coup plotters], they showed us how they had planned everything, I remained silent." He then accused the US of assisting in the plot: "Then we discovered the work of clearly foreign intelligence services, most likely the FBI, the CIA."
At the height of the contested reelection protests last August, Lukashenko and other top officials said that NATO had built up forces along Belarus' Western border. He warned at the time that his military would immediately 'react' with force to any NATO provocation.
However, the crisis has since died down after a severe crackdown by police and security services, which involved stationing armed vehicles and tanks surrounding the presidential palace complex in Minsk.