Is the Wagner Group a Poison Gift for Lukashenka?

Lukashenka and Putin clash with Poland over Wagner

25 July 2023

Viktoryia Kolchyna

Marcin Król Fellow

Alyaksandr Lukashenka plays theatre about the presence of the Wagner Group in Belarus, but instead of directing, he is most likely just a supporting actor in Putin’s show.

The first thing the Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka did in the aftermath of Wagner’s failed coup attempt in June was to award gеnеral еpaulettes to thе newly elevated high-ranking officers of the Belarussian army. 

The ceremony was part of Lukashenka’s broad attempt to capitalise on the affair, in which he played the role of mediator between Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Exactly how significant that role was remains a mystery – it is hard to imagine that Putin would allow his Minsk proxy to act independently – but there is no doubt Lukashenka exploited the event to the maximum to steal the limelight and boost his weakened image at home and in Russia itself. 

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Viktoryia Kolchyna

Marcin Król Fellow

Viktoryia Kolchyna is a journalist and contributing author that has covered Human Rights topics for multiple networks including Belsat TV and Al Jazeera English. She worked on documentaries that won several awards, including NYF TV & Film Awards, Silver World Medal Film People & Power- Russia: The Orthodox Connection( 2019) and Nomination for Rory Peck Award from Al Jazeera People & Power- Armenia: Mining out the leopard (2019).

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