Alexander Lukashenko has arrived in Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin, flight tracking data showed, as protests continued in Belarus against the leader rule that emerged since the August 9 election.
The Belarusian interior ministry said on Monday that Lukashenko’s plane landed in the southern Russian city of Sochi on Monday morning after detaining 774 people in anti-government demonstrations, including 500 people, in the capital Belarus. aOn Sunday, at least 100,000 protesters flooded the streets of Minsk.
The meeting between the two leaders was the first face-to-face dialogue ever since the Belarusian election.
The Kremlin said that Putin and Lukashenko will address aspects of their strategic partnership, including energy, trade and cultural projects.
Putin congratulated Lukashenko on his victory at the time, but did not later describe the vote as ideal. The actions of the Russian president have so far suggested that he has no desire to see the leader of a neighboring former Soviet country under pressure on the streets – even though Lukashenko has often proved a thorny and difficult ally.
Protests, characterized by some violence, have held the country for five weeks since the vote, seen at some anti-Kremlin rallies
A protester at Sunday’s rally said, “I am concerned about Russia’s intentions to enforce our interests. We have to be friends with Russia, but it is not good for neighboring countries to get involved in our internal problems.” ”
Catserina Shamatsina of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Studies told Al Jazeera: “Lukashenko has this month exhausted all the means he used to apply in previous years which were mass atrocities towards people. People. They were beaten and detained and then it would have happened. Mass protests. This time it doesn’t work. ”
On Monday, the United Nations Rights Council agreed to host an urgent debate on reports of violence at the hands of officials during protests.
Last week, 65-year-old Lukashenko gave an interview this week to Russian journalists, including Marilyta Simonian, editor-in-chief of Kremlin-controlled channel RT, warning that if his government collapses, “Russia will be next”.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Eastern European Since 1994, a nation of 9.5 million people with an iron fist has previously pleaded guilty to Western demonstrations in Belarus in hopes of turning it into a “bridgehead against Russia”.
Al Jazeera’s Step Wessen, reporting from Minsk, said: “Lukashenko has left Belarus for the first time as the political crisis has started and his bargaining position has not improved since this mass rally on Sunday. That number Were hoping to show less. To President Putin that he has everything under control which clearly does not work.
“He needs more support than ever before from President Putin. And Putin is ready to give him his support because Putin really wants to prevent Belarus from falling into the hands of the West and possibly NATO. But that support will come at a price. ”
“Different scenarios are still being discussed by observers as to what will happen from this meeting but we will probably find out here. The Kremlin has said that no statement will be made after the meeting.”
“Whatever the outcome today will not be the result that the opposition is opposing because they are not on the table, they are not being discussed today by two men in Sochi.”
Al Jazeera and news agencies