The head of the Security Council of Belarus, Gen. Viktar Sheiman, charged on January 18 that opposition leaders are lobbying the U.S. Congress to adopt a resolution on "restoring democracy in Belarus. In remarks broadcast on national television, Sheiman said that the opposition has also asked U.S. lawmakers to finance a purported "strategic plan" to overthrow President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Sheiman named some leaders of the Popular Front, as well as of the forcibly dissolved parliament and of the disbanded Supreme Court, as involved in the alleged plan. Sheiman promised further "revelations" soon and prosecution of "conspirators." (Russian agencies, NTV, January 18-19) The authorities are intensifying the propaganda campaign they launched on January 11 in connection with the opposition’s "plot." (See Monitor, January 13, 16)
The Popular Front, the Social-Democrat and United Civic parties, and the dissolved parliament’s Executive Committee ("shadow government") have replied in a joint statement that the authorities’ fabrication presages more severe repression of the opposition and, possibly, a fresh "integrationist initiative" within the framework of the Russia-Belarus Union. (Belapan, January 17) Yesterday, in the presence of the new U.S. ambassador to Russia, President Boris Yeltsin expressed confidence in the "good prospects of the fraternal Russia-Belarus Union." (Russian agencies, January 19) Lukashenka and Yeltsin are scheduled to hold a summit of the Russia-Belarus Union in Moscow this week.
It is also possible that the authorities are seeking a substitute for the trial against the journalists of Russia’s ORT Television. The authorities’ case in that trial, which has been in progress since last month, has unraveled. A lack of official zeal in the ORT trial suggests that the authorities may have agreed to a deal as a political face-saver for the Kremlin.
Impromptu Russian-Ukrainian Summit Scheduled.