During a ceremony marking the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko called on people in the neighbouring countries to depose politicians “who have gone mad losing touch with reality”.
"I appeal, first of all and once again, to the peoples of our neighboring countries – Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Ukrainians. Wake up before it's too late,” he was quoted by the state news agency BelTa. “Look what a beautiful world it is. We always lived peacefully with each other, in a neighbourly way, shared a piece of bread, visited each other.”
In May, Lukashenko’s regime scrambled the country’s air force to divert a Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight to arrest a dissident journalist and his partner. Since then, the regime has made it virtually impossible for Belarusians to leave the country.
The EU is now set to impose sectoral economic sanctions targeting the regime’s main sources of income.
During his speech on Wednesday, Lukashenko also blasted NATO “rascals”, saying that “Belarus should not be lulled by stories about their exercises being defensive”.
After mass protests against his rule began in August last year, Lukashenko briefly put the country’s troops on combat readiness due to the alleged NATO threat, which Lithuanian officials dismissed as an attempt to divert attention from the political crisis in the country.
Thousands of Belarusians have been forced to flee from severe repressions, including torture and killings, to neighbouring countries.