At a regular meeting in the Minsk Writers’ House chaired by speaker Syamyon Sharetsky, some 45 members of the forcibly dissolved Belarusan parliament–including 6 out of 9 members of its Presidium — designated a National Economic Council and a "shadow cabinet." Headed by the dissolved parliament’s vice-chairman and prominent entrepreneur Henadz Karpenka, the shadow cabinet includes working groups on economic reform, energy, agriculture, foreign trade, and foreign policy. The rump parliament, which apparently still has the allegiance of more than 70 deputies, issued an appeal to the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe to recognize and support Belarusan democratic forces and to treat the Lukashenko-controlled parliament as illegitimate. Social-Democrat party leader Mikalay Statkevich, who has just served a two-week jail term, appealed to Western Social-Democrats for support.
For his part, Lukashenko gave his critics fresh ammunition by selecting a host of executive branch officials, already subordinated to himself, for concurrent "employment" as members of the upper chamber of the new parliament. That body is already studded with career KGB officers and presidential protégés and has, in effect, abolished the concept of executive-legislative division of powers. At the recent OSCE summit in Lisbon (and with the support of Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin), Lukashenko vetoed the European Union’s proposal for an OSCE delegation to look into the observance of democratic norms in Belarus. (Belapan, Interfax, December 29-31)
Ukraine Tries Again with New Military Transport.