Belarusan foreign minister Ivan Antanavich yesterday dismissed as a "private speech" the previous day’s remarks by Yuri Luzhkov, mayor of Moscow. Luzhkov had called for unification of Russia and Belarus in a federal state with common armed forces and borders, and a joint Foreign Ministry. Luzhkov also urged Russia to bear the expenses involved in such a unification, and attacked "Western-influenced Russian liberal-democrats" who oppose the merger. Antanavich further commented that Luzhkov’s proposals are "far removed from our policy. We have our own position and views." (Itar-Tass, Interfax, February 26-27) President Aleksandr Lukashenko and other officials have recently become far less enthusiastic than they used to be regarding a merger with Russia, and Prime Minister Sayrhey Ling has just set stringent limitations on military cooperation with Moscow. (See Monitor, February 24)
Georgia Sends Mixed Signals on Abkhazia.