Vyacheslau Kebich, independent Belarus’s first prime minister, reportedly is a leading candidate to replace Myacheslau Hryb as speaker in a new national parliament after the November 29 repeat elections. Hryb has challenged president Aleksandr Lukashenko by referring unlawful presidential decrees to the Constitutional Court and supporting electoral law changes that the president opposes. Kebich was one of a handful of well-known names elected in May’s incomplete parliamentary balloting, but has been marking time in relative obscurity since Lukashenko defeated him in the 1994 presidential election. Anticipating Kebich’s political rebirth, the newspaper Narodnaya gazeta revisited (November 11) old allegations of corruption in the matter of a sale of promissory notes during Kebich’s tenure as prime minister. In a November 15 broadcast, Lukashenko denounced the charges as political intrigues by forces opposed to Kebich’s return to the affairs of state. (9) Lukashenko did not remind his audience is that he himself lobbed similar corruption charges against the Kebich government in televised debates during last year’s presidential campaign. It will be interesting to see how Lukashenko, the crusader against corruption, explains to the public why he is placing his confidence in a man he depicted only last year as corrupt.
Storms Over Pipelines.