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Belorus's Presudent Alexander Lukashenko (Photo Credit: Sergei Fedeichev/TASS)

Russia may postpone opening its borders with Belarus over the recent detention of its citizens in Minsk, the State Duma told Izvestia. The restrictions could have been lifted in August, but now this issue might remain open. So far, there is not even a clear understanding of what the 33 Russians are being accused of, the Federation Council noted, adding that if the case goes to court, Moscow will consider the possibility of requesting the extradition of Russian citizens. However, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that it may not come to this. There is a chance that both countries will agree on the return of these Russian citizens through diplomatic channels.

Moscow wants to find out what happened just as much as Belarus does, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov told Izvestia. “So far, the accusations are vague. The Russians arrived in a group, they had camouflage uniforms, and they did not drink. So are these sufficient grounds for charges of organizing mass riots?” the senator said.

Extradition would be possible after the trial, in the event that a criminal case against the 33 detainees is initiated in the Russian Federation and a corresponding request is received from Russian law enforcement agencies, said Paul Kalinichenko, an expert at the Kutafin Moscow State Law University when speaking to Izvestia. However, Russia has no claims against these citizens, so it is better to resolve this issue through diplomatic channels, the lawyer noted

In order to minimize losses and not deepen the crisis with Moscow, the Belarusian leadership should take a break and invite representatives of the Russian special services to Minsk, political scientist Vladimir Evseev told Izvestia. “The Belarusian side has to present the information it has, without distorting the facts, so that both countries make an objective decision,” the expert said.

According to the expert, the aggravation in relations with Russia may play into the hands of Lukashenko’s political opponents. “Lukashenko’s actions in the detention of the Russian citizens may provoke a response. This can lead to a decline in the domestic social conditions,” Evseev pointed out.

Some detainees are not only Russian passport holders but simultaneously have Ukrainian citizenship as well, which Moscow does not recognize, saying only their extradition to Russia is possible. The biggest mistake that would lead to a serious deterioration in relations between Moscow and Minsk will be the extradition of the detainees to Ukraine, the political scientist stressed.