Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday ordered the defense minister to take “the most stringent measures” to protect the country’s territorial integrity, which has been witnessing a protest movement since the controversial presidential election on August 9.
A statement published by the Belarusian presidency on Telegram said that Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 26 years, inspected Saturday military units deployed in Grodno, in the west of the country, near the border with Poland.
Upon arriving at the military site in Grodno, he denounced the protest movement, which he said was being incited “from outside”.
The President declared, “He commanded the Ministry of Defense… to protect the pearl of western Belarus and its center, Grodno.
And to take the most stringent measures to protect the territorial integrity of our country”.
The statement comes as the Belarusian army prepares for maneuvers in the Grodno region between 28 and 31 August.
Lukashenko, who claims to win 80% in the presidential elections, faces a protest movement unprecedented in this former Soviet republic.
The opposition says that the elections witnessed fraud and they organize daily demonstrations in the country.
This week, the opposition formed a “coordination council” whose goal is to work to achieve a political transition in the country after the elections.
On Thursday, the authorities launched legal prosecutions against him on charges of “compromising national security”.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who sought refuge in Lithuania, stressed Friday that the Belarusian people “will never accept the current leadership”.
For his part, Lukashenko said Friday that he would “address the problem” of the protest movement.