Addressing a Soviet-style teachers’ congress in Minsk on October 4, Belarusan president Alyaksandr Lukashenka charged that Russian "financial magnates" and Kremlin officials had used the detention of Russian ORT TV journalists to "manipulate" Boris Yeltsin into canceling Lukashenka’s scheduled visit to Russia. (See Monitor, October 3) Lukashenka identified Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky as being among the alleged culprits and also as examples of "common rogues who control Russian television networks" hostile to him. Lukashenka also recalled that he had "more than once condemned [Yeltsin’s 1993] shooting of the Duma; I am not being forgiven for such things." That reminder was timed to coincide with Yeltsin’s latest threat to dissolve the Duma again. Lukashenka condescendingly described Yeltsin as "eighty years old," and the chief spokesman for the Belarusan president accused the Kremlin of "exerting undisguised political pressure and open blackmail" on Belarus.
Yeltsin’s own spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, chose to refute only Lukashenka’s claim to be a proponent of the Russia-Belarus Union. Yastrzhembsky recalled that Lukashenka had actually rejected Moscow’s proposal to stipulate in the Union Charter a political merger of Russia and Belarus as their common goal. "No one in the Kremlin doubts the vital need for the Russia-Belarus Union, and not for reasons of ideology or nostalgia, but out of pragmatic understanding of Russia’s national interests," Yastrzhembsky stressed. (Russian agencies, RTR, October 4-5)
Local Border Guard Chief Warns of Possible "Provocations" on Russian-Azerbaijani Border.