If the regime of Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko falls, so will the government of its giant neighbour and ally Russia.
The controversial head of state, who has been hearing tens of thousands of Belarusians calling for his departure for weeks, said Tuesday according to Russian media.
“You know what we have concluded with the Russian establishment and leadership? If Belarus falls, Russia will be next,” noted the Russian state press agency RIA Novosti.
Earlier in the day, Lukashenko, 66, said that he may have stayed in power a little too long, but that he is the only one who can now protect the country. His supporters will be attacked if he leaves, he said. Despite the massive protests, he remains in his post.
He said he would not rule out early elections, but he believes that the constitution needs to be amended to do so.
Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994 and claims to have been re-elected in the August 9 presidential election. According to his opponents and the international community, it was a fraud.
Lukashenko will be travelling to Moscow for talks “in the coming days”, the Kremlin reported Monday. President Vladimir Putin said earlier that he has troops in reserve to assist law enforcement officials in Belarus if necessary after Lukashenko requested.