Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday rejected offers of foreign mediation with a post-election opposition movement demanding his ouster, telling defense chiefs he would not give up power.
“We will not give up the country to anyone,” state news agency Belta quoted Lukashenko as saying at a meeting at the defense ministry.
“We don’t need any foreign governments, any intermediaries,” he said.
Thousands of opposition supporters have been taking to the streets for days against Lukashenko’s claim to have won re-election last Sunday with 80 percent of the vote, in the biggest challenge to his rule since he came to power in 1994.
In the meeting he claimed families of servicemen had been receiving threats and warned that the military was ready to defend itself.
“Do not play with fire! Our soldiers have enough resources to protect themselves and their families and to ensure the security of the state.”
He accused opponents of using “girls” against his government, after thousands of women took to the streets this week in human chains to support the opposition.
“If there are men among you, be men. If you want to fight and scuffle – go ahead, but let’s do it man to man. Don’t put forward girls and threaten families.”