In the course of the December 8 pro-independence and democracy demonstration in Minsk (see Monitor, December 9), Syamyon Sharetsky, chairman of the forcibly dissolved parliament, requested international support for the Belarusan opposition, "which resists a dictatorship in the heart of Europe." That opposition is now reorganizing after president Aleksandr Lukashenko’s Russian-assisted imposition of a personal dictatorship. Minsk sources told The Monitor that the Belarusan Writers’ Union hosted on December 4 a conference of opposition leaders, grouped as the Belarus Public in Defense of Democracy. Two days later a large group of members of the dissolved parliament met under Sharetsky’s chairmanship. The participants adopted a statement drawing attention to "Russian ruling circles’ contribution to establishing a dictatorial regime in Belarus." They resolved to continue meeting as lawful parliamentary deputies and to form a democratic and patriotic Belarus movement. They also urged Belarusan citizens to resist the Lukashenko regime through political activism, and called upon European nations to assist "the normal democratic development" of Belarus in their own — as well as in Belarus’ — interest.
The movement’s founders include the dissolved parliament’s vice-chairman and prominent entrepreneur Hennadz Karpenka, former parliament chairmen Mechislau Hryb and Stanislau Shushkevich, economic reformers and senior parliamentarians Stanislau Bahdankevich and Vasil Shlyndzikau, the dismissed Central Election Commission’s chairman Viktar Hanchar, Popular Front leaders Yuri Khadyka and Lyavon Barshchevsky, Social-Democrat leader Mikalay Stankevich, and trade union representatives. The movement faces a virtual media blackout in Belarus. (Belaplan, December 5, 7; Monitor interviews)
Georgian Navy Chief Dismissed.