Belarus President: Western intelligence agencies using ‘fifth column’ to undermine my regime

Russia's President Vladimir Putin listens to his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko as they attend a signing ceremony during a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 3, 2015. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File PhotoThomson Reuters

MOSCOW (AP) — The president of Belarus says Western intelligence agencies are using a “fifth column” to cause unrest and threaten the stability of his regime.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the former Soviet republic in recent weeks to protest an unpopular labor law, the largest anti-government demonstrations in Belarus for years.

President Alexander Lukashenko says Monday that “Western funds under the direction of Western security services” are trying to “inflame the situation in Belarus,” the state news agency Belta reported.

People in Belarus are unhappy about government plans to tax those without official employment. Despite a rare decision by Lukashenko to postpone the measure, protests have continued. Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested by the authorities.

Lukashenko has suppressed opposition and independent media since coming to office in 1994.

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