Belarus probes Russian mercenaries for 'terror' plot

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a wreath-laying ceremony marking 74 years since the victory in WWII in Minsk Belarus

Her supporters gathered in a square in Minsk for what the AFP news agency said was the largest opposition protest in the ex-Soviet country in a decade.

Hundreds of people, including activists and bloggers, have been arrested as the government has cracked down hard on rallies and demonstrations supporting opposition candidates, who were not registered by the election officials.

"People who want a decent life are not criminals", Ms Tikhanovskaya told the crowd.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya waves to the crowd at the Minsk rally.

Lukashenko, 65, has ruled Belarus since 1994.

Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya said on Thursday that neither she nor Syarhei, her jailed husband, had anything to do with an alleged Russian mercenary plot to destabilize Belarus.

The state-controlled Belta news agency said Belarus had detained the suspected mercenaries after receiving information that more than 200 fighters had entered the country to destabilize it ahead of a presidential election. The Belarusian Investigative Committee is now conducting an inquiry in connection with these Russian citizens.

Both Tikhanovsky and Statkevich were jailed in the run-up to the polls.

Peskov said Thursday he is not aware of any private military companies in Russia, adding that "there is no such thing as a private military company in Russian law". National authorities refused to impose lockdown measures to counter the spread of the virus, opting to hold mass events and greenlighting the presidential election campaign.

Hong Kong pro-democracy professor fired for 'doing evil'
University chiefs had launched a disciplinary investigation after Tai was released from a 16-month jail sentence past year . Lawyers said if Tai wins his appeal against his criminal conviction , the HKU council decision may be reviewed.

Lukashenko at an emergency meeting of his security council on Wednesday demanded an explanation from Moscow.

Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch often referred to as "Putin's chef" for his close ties to the Kremlin.

Neighboring Ukraine said on July 30 that it was initiating an extradition request for some of the mercenaries, who it believes have fought alongside Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The state-run Belta agency reported that Belarus had also launched a criminal case against Syarhei on suspicion of inciting riots.

The country's security services on Wednesday arrested a group of 32 Russian fighters as well as one other man in a different location. Russian Federation denied the allegations.

Ambassador Mezentsev said that the detained Russian men were transiting through Belarus and were en route to a "third country". The group members are charged with plotting an act of terror and being interrogated.

Wagner - a private military company linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman who was indicted in the United States for meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election - has allegedly deployed hundreds of military contractors to eastern Ukraine, Syria and Libya.

It also reported that the alleged militants gave themselves away because unlike ordinary Russian tourists, they did not drink. Prigozhin is a Russian businessman indicted in the United States for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

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