Russia fears foreign plot to overthrow Belarus dictator
Russia fears foreign Belarus plot
Foreign pro-democracy activists are secretly plotting
revolution in Belarus, Russia's spy chief has said.
Nikolai Patrushev, head of the FSB security service,
said foreign NGOs had been working covertly to help
unseat President Alexander Lukashenko.
The US has called Belarus, a close ally of Russia and
President Vladimir Putin, "Europe's last
Speaking to Russia's parliament, Mr Patrushev accused
US, British, Kuwaiti and Saudi NGOs of spying.
Mr Patrushev, considered an ally of Mr Putin, said
that at least $5m (�2.6m) has been funnelled to
opposition groups in Belarus for 2005. He did not
specify who he suspects of providing the money.
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, who was
re-elected in 2004 in elections widely criticised by
international observers, recently said that foreign
efforts to impose democracy or end his alliance with
Russia would fail.
Mr Patrushev said that foreign intelligence services
were actively working to repeat the success of
Ukraine's "Orange Revolution".
"Our opponents are steadily and persistently trying to
weaken Russian influence in the Commonwealth of
Independent States and the international arena as a
whole," Mr Patrushev said.
"The latest events in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan
unambiguously confirm this."
An uprising in Kyrgyzstan in March forced long-serving
President Askar Akayev into exile in Moscow.
Earlier this week US President George W Bush spoke to
huge crowds in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, praising
the peaceful "Rose revolution" that installed Mikhail
Saakashvili as president in 2003.
A day earlier, Mr Bush stood alongside Mr Putin in
Moscow at ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of
the Allied victory in Europe in World War II.
"Plans are being drawn up to involve Ukrainian
'orange' officials to carry out a similar revolution
in Belarus," Mr Patrushev said in Moscow.
"Foreign secret services are more actively using
unconventional methods in their work and are using the
teaching programmes of various NGOs to promote their
The FSB chief singled out the US Peace Corps, which
pulled out of Russia in 2002 amid spying allegations,
British medical group Merlin, the Saudi Red Crescent
and a Kuwaiti group called the Society of Social Reforms.