Lukashenka visits migrant camp in Bruzgi

The migrants were taken out to meet Lukashenka. He also went into the logistics center, where migrants are staying.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka is visiting a migrant camp in the logistics center Bruzgi. November 26, 2021. Photo: BelTA.

On November 26, Alyaksandr Lukashenka flew to the logistics center Bruzgi, where migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who had earlier tried to storm the Polish border under the control of the Belarusian security forces, were staying.

A Belsat reader reported around 9 a.m. that Lukashenka flew to Bruzgi by helicopter. The same was reported by blogger Anton Matolka (apparently referring to another source), but his source claimed that Lukashenka flew out of Astrashytski Haradok. Matolka adds that rail traffic to Bruzgi has been stopped.

According to the state news agency, Lukashenka was accompanied by the chairman of the Border Committee Anatol Lapo and chairman of the Hrodna Regional Executive Committee Uladzimir Karanik. He was accompanied by his aide for the Hrodna region Yury Karayeu and other officials.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka visits a migrants’ camp in the logistics center Bruzgi. November 26, 2021. Photo: BelTA.

Lukashenka was met by dozens of migrants (who are usually not allowed out of the center just for fun) outside the logistics center. Lukashenka toured the food distribution point – he was assured that the migrants have enough food (the migrants had previously stated the opposite), spoke with representatives of the Belarusian Red Cross, which is controlled by the authorities, and asked about fire safety.

Under the protection of plainclothed men, Lukashenka entered the logistics center itself. Then he spoke to the migrants in the street; the speech was interpreted into Arabic. State Belarusian television broadcast the speech live.

He told the migrants that “we will never play or make politics on your destinies.” The European Union has accused him of doing just that: organizing a hybrid attack and using migrants as weapons.

Lukashenka said there were 300-400 children and the same number of women in the Bruzgi.

It is not clear how many people are in the center now: at first, authorities stated that up to 2,000 people were there, but on the night of November 26 more than 600 people were evacuated from Belarus to Iraq.

He stated that up to 200 people allegedly “pass” into Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland every day, and referred to the authorities of these countries. However, the authorities of these countries report hundreds of thwarted attempts to illegally cross the border every day, not that people “pass through.” Lukashenka called the attempts to not let migrants through “an attempt to brutally throw people away”.

“Whoever wants to move westward — it is also your right,” Lukashenka told the migrants. “We are not going to catch them, beat them, and keep them behind barbed wire.”

According to the Belarusian laws, Belarusian border guards have to detain border violators, and inaction in such a situation is a criminal offense. One of the Iraqis, who has already returned home, compared the abuse he experienced in Belarus to the actions of “Islamic State” terrorists.

Lukashenka urged migrants not to be afraid of law enforcers and “soldiers dressed in military uniform” (migrants were guarded by unmarked “green men” and “people in plain clothes”, among others).

Lukashenka’s speech lasted about 25 minutes, and then the migrants were able to speak.