State-run news agency of Belarus BelTA reported the details of the detention of "members of a foreign private military company" near Minsk, the capital of Belarus, and in the south of the country. The news agency separately specified that the arrested individuals were fighters of the Russian PMC Wagner.
"According to sources in law enforcement agencies, information was received about the arrival of more than 200 militants in Belarus to destabilize the situation during the election campaign," the agency said, adding that every arrested Russian citizen had a small carry-on luggage and three "large heavy suitcases" for everyone.
On the night of July 25, the group arrived in Minsk and checked into one of the hotels in the capital of Minsk. They were supposed to check out the same day, but left the hotel on July 27 and moved to one of the sanatoriums in the Minsk region.
"According to the administration of the sanatorium, the visitors attracted attention to themselves with their behavior, which was uncharacteristic for Russian tourists, and with their monotonous military-style clothes. They did not drink alcohol, nor did they attend any entertainment institutions, and tried to stay away from others not to attract attention to themselves," the agency reports.
It was also said that the visitors were exploring the territory and surroundings of the sanatorium. On the night of July 29, 32 people were detained by the forces of the KGB's A Group with the support of the OMON GUVD of the executive committee of the city of Minsk. Another person was detained in the south of Belarus.
The Russian Embassy in Belarus does not have official information from the competent authorities of Belarus about the detention of Russian citizens.
"The embassy will request official information from the competent authorities of Belarus," Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev said on Wednesday.
A little later, the Russian diplomatic mission reported on Twitter that it had requested information from the Belarusian competent authorities about the detention of the Russian citizens.
It is believed that the Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus were going to Africa, namely to Sudan. The footage of their detention shows a 20-pound Sudanese banknote and a telephone card depicting the Khatmiya Mosque in the city of Kassala.
In the spring of 2019, several Russian and foreign media outlets reported that institutions associated with Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, including PMC Wagner, were actively supporting the regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. However, the president, who had ruled Sudan for 30 years, was eventually dismissed by the military. He is currently being held in custody.
PMC Wagner mercenaries could also be sent on missions to other African countries. Thus, the aircraft of the Russian Ministry of Defense have repeatedly flown from Russia to Libya through the capital of Sudan, Khartoum. Russia officially denies its involvement in military actions in both Sudan and Libya.
France is used to terminating large-scale contracts, as that was the case of the Russian-French deal on Mistral helicopter carriers