Head of Russia Today calls for Russian military intervention into Belarus
Top Russian propagandist Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of the state Russia Today news agency, called on Russia to invade Belarus to restore order as anti-government protests rage across the country.
Her comments come as pro-Russian dictator Alexander Lukashenko is using brutal force against Belarusian protesters to maintain his power after a fraudulent presidential election, which took place on Aug. 9.
“It’s time for the ‘polite people’ to restore order, of course,” Simonyan wrote on Twitter on Aug. 14, “like they can.”
“Polite people” or “little green men” were the unofficial name given to Russian troops who invaded Ukraine in February 2014.
In 2014, after Ukraine’s EuroMaidan Revolution ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russia invaded and illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. From the start, Russia denied its presence in Crimea and used soldiers without insignia.
Soon after invading Crimea, Russia began a full-fledged war against Ukraine in the country’s eastern Donbas region. That war continues to this day and has led to the deaths of over 13,000 Ukrainians.
In November 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the so-called “little green men” were in fact Russian troops.
“Our military was blocking Ukrainian military stationed in Crimea,” Putin said in an interview with ARD, a German news outlet.
“We never denied that fact,” he added. Previously, Putin had repeated the lie that Russian troops had nothing to do with the occupation of Crimea.
The Belarusian protests are the largest episode of anti-government unrest in the country since independence in 1991.
Based upon state-controlled exit polls, Lukashenko was declared the winner of the country’s Aug. 9 election with 80% of the vote. But voters believed that these results were fraudulent.
People began to line up in front of local election commissions demanding a fair count. Some local commissions responded by declaring opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya the actual winner.
The vast disparity between the official numbers and the results from an independently conducted count, which declared Tikhanovskaya the winner, drove people to the streets. Soon, their protests were met by an unprecedented level of brutality from the police.
For five days straight, riot police and special forces of the Belarusian security agency, still called the KGB, have fired rubber bullets, hurled flash grenades and used water cannons against protesters, sometimes leaving them seriously injured.
Multiple videos published through local channels on the Telegram messenger app showed police beating unarmed demonstrators.
Police grabbed people off the streets, throwing over 7,000 protesters, passersby and journalists behind bars.
Many of the detainees were kept for hours and faced torture in captivity. Protesters released from jail said they were denied medical assistance and kept in horrendous conditions without the right to make a phone call.