Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 53

Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko professed his "regret that the former union cannot be again" along with his certainty that "we must build a union state with all those [ex-Soviet republics] who desire it… That new union may even be closer than the former one." Lukashenko recalled with pride that he had been the sole deputy to vote against ratification of the Belovezhye agreements in the Belarus parliament. However, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko cautiously but unmistakably distanced himself from the president by observing, in an interview for Russian media, that the Duma’s resolutions have no effect on former Soviet republics "which have become independent and sovereign states." The Duma "discredited the integration process which is gaining momentum in the CIS and particularly between Russia and Belarus," Syanko said. Former chairman of the Belarus parliament and cosigner of the original Belovezhye documents Stanislau Shushkevich commented also for Russian media that the Duma "harbors imperial ambitions but cannot take control of sovereign republics." The Duma’s Communist-initiated action confirmed to Shushkevich that Yeltsin is "Russia’s only serious political leader and deserving of support," despite "differences on many issues" between them. An estimated 1,500 Communists attended a rally in Minsk yesterday to endorse the Duma’s resolutions and to demand that the Belarus parliament follow suit by denouncing the Belovezhye agreements. (Interfax, Russian TV, March 15-17)