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Kremlin: Russia Sees Lukashenko as Legitimate President, Belarusians as Brotherly People

© Sputnik / Andrei Aleksandrov / Go to the mediabankState colors of Russia and Belarus on the building of the Minsk Philharmonic.
State colors of Russia and Belarus on the building of the Minsk Philharmonic. - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Alexander Lukashenko is the legitimate president of Belarus, and all Belarusians are seen as brotherly people in Russia, regardless of whether they agree with the latest election results or not, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

"Alexander Grigoryevich [Lukashenko] is the legitimate president of the Republic of Belarus and is a vis-a-vis of President [Vladimir] Putin in interstate relations", Peskov said following Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi.

Russia sees all Belarusians, both those supporting Lukashenko and those opposing him, as brotherly people.

"As President Putin has said from the very beginning, we want everything that happens in Belarus to happen not in some non-constitutional form, but within a legal framework", the spokesman stated.

When asked whether the two leaders discussed the use of force to disperse protesters in Belarus, the Peskov noted that this is not a matter of bilateral relations.

Russia Gives $1.5Bln State Loan to Belarus

During the televised portion of the Russia-Belarus talks, Putin said that Russia would lend $1.5 billion to Belarus as a state loan.

"The $1.5 billion loan was confirmed and will be issued", Peskov said, specifying that part of it will be spent to cover Belarus' outstanding sovereign debt before Russia.

Asked whether the Kremlin had any concerns that Belarus might not pay the loan back, like Ukraine did several years ago, as well as pointed to the statement of ex-Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya that Lukashenko will have to pay the Russian loan back personally, Peskov said it was "a fundamentally wrong statement of the issue".

"The loan is issued not to President Lukashenko, but to Belarus, our big ally and a brotherly nation for us", the spokesman said, adding that the issuance of the loan "must in no way be interpreted as interference in internal affairs".

Commenting on the behind-the-doors part of the talks, Peskov said that the two leaders spoke tete-a-tete, focusing on the topics discussed earlier this month during the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to Minsk and visits of several Belarusian officials to Moscow.

"Of course, in the first place, they discussed the bilateral relations, trade and economic cooperation", Peskov added.

Russia, Belarus to Hold Joint Military Drills

Moscow and Minsk will hold joint military exercises, but there has been no discussion about Russia deploying military bases in Belarus, Peskov said.

The spokesman was asked by journalists if the leaders had discussed the issue of bases and whether or not Russia supported Belarus with that goal in mind.

"No, these allegations are not grounded in reality, this issue [of bases] was not discussed. Drills will be held, but such an issue is not on the agenda", Peskov said.

Peskov also confirmed that Lukashenko was going to initiate the process of changing the country's basic law.

"On his part, President Lukashenko confirmed his intention to move forward with constitutional changes, informed [President Putin] about his intention to form an appropriate working structure and launch a full-scale process of constitutional changes", Peskov added.

Putin and Lukashenko have reportedly discussed a broad range of issues on the bilateral and regional agenda. This includes the ongoing post-election protests in Belarus and Russia's stance on the matter.

The talks have lasted over four hours, according to Belarus' Belta broadcaster.

Protests in Belarus have been ongoing for over a month now. People took to the streets in Minsk and other big cities after the opposition denounced the official presidential election results — according to which Lukashenko collected over 80 percent of the vote — and claimed instead that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, an opposition candidate, won the election.

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