Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s presidential term was up in March, but he foresightedly extended it in a rigged referendum two years ago. Boris Yeltsin’s presidential term is up next year, but Belarus may help him stay in office if not in power. The still unformed Russia-Belarus Union will create a new presidential billet, and Vladimir Putin, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service and chief of the interagency National Security Council, told a television interviewer that Yeltsin is the man for the job. That would make Lukashenka the vice president and CEO to Yeltsin’s chairman of the board…. An American ambassador returned to Minsk for the first time since June 1998, when Lukashenka essentially expropriated the Western diplomatic residential compound. Western chiefs of mission then walked out in a mass protest but have since returned one by one, with the Americans the last holdout. As for the seizure of diplomatic property, Lukashenka, like Br’er Rabbit, got clean away…. Lukashenka is an equal-opportunity scammer. Just two weeks ago, Belarus and Russia signed agreements allowing each country to establish military bases on the territory of the other. Last week, Lukashenka put on the squeeze. Russian bases in Belarus would be “absurd,” he said, because Russia has no money to pay the rent. That was the first the Russians knew that though they have the right to set up bases in Belarus, actually doing so is an extra-cost option.