Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 131

At a news conference yesterday, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko denied persistent rumors that he is about to step down. His remarks follow a similar refutation earlier this week by President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who blamed a "moral terror" campaign by the political opposition for the speculation about Syanko’s future. The president admitted that he and the foreign minister don’t see eye to eye on every issue but saw no reason to dismiss Syanko as long as he carried out his mandate to bring about Belarus’s integration with Russia. Yesterday, Syanko also weighed in against rumor-mongers who were trying to "produce chaos in the foreign ministry" and "create the impression of internal strife on the presidential team in the wake of the resignation of certain officials," in what was a reference to last month’s clean sweep of the Internal Affairs ministry ‘s hierarchy. (11) Despite these denials, the impression indeed is left that Belarusian government officials have been terrified by Lukashenko, especially since the abrupt ouster of internal affairs minister Yuri Zakharenka and his subordinates. What adds to the tension is that Lukashenko came into his position as an outsider who was never part of the cozy nomenklatura circles of Minsk.