MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that he stands ready to send police to Belarus if protests there turn violent but sees no such need yet, while Belarusian police dispersed a protest in the capital with renewed vigor Thursday, detaining about 180 people and raising pressure on the opposition.
Belarus’ authoritarian president of 26 years, Alexander Lukashenko, has been facing weeks of protests against his reelection to a sixth term in the Aug. 9 vote, which the opposition says was rigged.
Putin told Russia’s state television Thursday that Lukashenko has asked him to prepare a Russian law enforcement contingent to deploy to Belarus if necessary. Putin said he and Lukashenko have agreed that “there is no such need now, and I hope there won’t be.”
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