The mercenary, who only gave his name as Mikhail, said he and his colleagues did not take part in the actual fighting but acted as advisers and were always present on the frontline. He told Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that many of his fellow Belarusians were veterans of the Soviet Union's 1979-89 war in Afghanistan and often had Special Forces backgrounds.
"It looks very much like the Belarusian advisers have managed to keep the Libyan army disciplined and have told them how to use mobile tactics against the rebels and how to deal with Nato air activity," the paper wrote. "For now the Belarusian partisans are winning!"
Five hundred Belarusian advisers were in Libya before the war broke out though some had since been evacuated, it added. While the mercenary named as Mikhail said he was working for the Libyans as a private contractor, it was not clear whether some of the other advisers were on official secondment from the Belarusian armed forces or also hired guns. Witnesses in Libya claim to have spotted Belarusian mercenaries fighting on Col Gaddafi's side but the Belarusian foreign ministry has angrily dismissed the alleged sightings as false rumours designed to tarnish its reputation. (read more)