The Belarusian opposition organized a rally on September 8 in Minsk.
The participants protested against staging Zapad-2017 military in Belarus, ‘occupation from the inside’ and external aggression.
The event ended with the oath of allegiance to Belarus.
The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad-2017 scheduled for September, 14-20 is supposed to demonstrate ‘persistence in efforts to ensure security of the two brotherly nations’. Such exercises are held in Belarus and Russia interchangeably every two years. In September, there will be about 10,000 troops involved in the exercise in the Belarusian territory (7,200 – the Belarusian Armed Forces and about 3,000 – the Russian Army).
At the same time, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite and a number of European politicians believe that the ‘West-2017’ demonstrates the preparation of Belarus and Russia to the war with the West. In mid April, Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, stressed that the joint military exercise might become the preparation for an assault against Ukraine in September. In turn, Belarusian democratic circles fear that Russian troops will not come back home after the war game.