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Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus have been wrongly accused

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s ambassador to Belarus said on Thursday that a group of more than 30 Russian nationals detained in Belarus and accused of seeking to destabilise the country had been wrongly accused and had been en route to a third country.

Russia demanded an explanation from Belarus earlier on Thursday, after Minsk arrested the alleged Russian mercenaries and said they were suspected of plotting “acts of terrorism” before a presidential election.

The ambassador said there were no grounds to suspect the men of seeking to meddle in the domestic affairs of Belarus and that they could have been working for a private security firm to protect energy infrastructure in another country.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn