Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 214

Belarusan president Aleksandr Lukashenko yesterday delivered an address in the Russian Duma at the Duma’s invitation. In his remarks, Lukashenko presented himself as a champion of Belarus-Russia "integration," which, he said, should lead to "unity" and "unification." Lukashenko made thinly disguised pleas for Russian economic relief in the form of rescuing bankrupt Belarusan industrial enterprises and opening Russian markets to Belarusan agricultural products. Portraying his country and himself as guardians of Russia’s and the Russia-Belarus Community’s "western border," Lukashenko urged joint measures to counteract NATO’s possible enlargement, and suggested that the withdrawal of the last remaining ex-Soviet strategic nuclear missiles from Belarus should be linked to guarantees that NATO will not deploy nuclear arms on the territories of its new member countries. Much of Lukashenko’s address contained a defense of his constitutional referendum and appeals to the people back home to support him.

The Duma’s nationalist-Communist majority had agreed to offer Lukashenko its rostrum on the assumption that this would strengthen Lukashenko’s hand at home and undermine his parliamentary opponents. The Duma’s leadership turned down Belarus parliament chairman Syamyon Sharetsky’s request to have Belarusan Central Election Commission chairman Viktar Hanchar address the Duma at the same time and comment on the unlawful nature of Lukashenko’s referendum. Hanchar and other Belarusan deputies were on hand in the Duma but were not given the floor. Yabloko and Democratic Russia’s Choice boycotted Lukashenko’s address and issued statements protesting against the invitation extended to him, but these groups are too small to make a difference in the Duma.

The Monitor is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation. It is researched and written under the direction of senior analysts Jonas Bernstein, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Foye, and analysts Ilya Malyakin, Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ilias Bogatyrev. If you have any questions regarding the content of the Monitor, please contact the foundation. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4516 43rd Street NW, Washington DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of the Monitor is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation Site Maintenance by Johnny Flash Productions