The Foreign Ministry of Belarus announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its ultimatum to all foreign missions to remove their equipment from Minsk’s Drazdy compound immediately (see the Monitor, July 8). Instead, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has authorized the Ministry to negotiate with each mission individually about the procedure and the date of the equipment’s removal. The officials admitted at a briefing that the initial demand had been “somewhat too severe” and needs to be “softened.” They added in an apologetic undertone that Lukashenka himself has vacated his residence in Drazdy and removed his furnishings, as the first to comply with his own decree. (Russian agencies, July 9)
There was no immediate explanation for the seeming change of heart in Minsk. Last month, Lukashenka had seemed briefly to relent on his plan to evict the envoys from Drazdy, but soon forced them out anyway on the pretext that the compound requires repairs. All envoys of Western and pro-Western countries have since left Minsk in protest. Lukashenka now seems to want to have a look at the equipment left behind.
A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS.