On Lukashenko inauguration day Russian paratroopers parachute into Belarus for drills
Russia’s Ministry of Defense says its paratroopers have parachuted into Belarus as part of joint military exercises.
t was the same day as Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in as Belarus president for the sixth term in an inauguration ceremony.
The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that 900 Russians were participating in the joint Russian-Belarusian "Slavic Brotherhood" drills, as well as 100 separate items of military equipment.
Some military analysts have interpreted the 13-day drills, which began on September 14, as a show of support for Lukashenko by Moscow.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to grant a loan of 1.5 billion dollars to Belarus, reaffirming support for the Lukashenko administration.
Belarus has been the scene of protests by supporters of opposition, who refuse to accept the official results of last month’s presidential election.
Western governments and Belarus’ opposition have rejected Lukashenko’s re-election, alleging voter fraud.
Lukashenko has rejected the allegations of vote rigging but proposed the drafting of a new constitution less reliant on the head of state.