Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov stated yesterday that "the Russia-Belarus Union is tremendously important, irrespective of Lukashenka’s personality. Whatever that personality may be, the union represents an enormous gain for Russia geopolitically, psychologically, and spiritually." Nemtsov faulted Lukashenka on two counts only: "behaving like a young student" in venting "personal bitterness" against Russian ORT TV correspondent Pavel Sheremet; and obstructing the Russian Gazprom and LUKoil companies’ plans to acquire property in the energy sector of Belarus. (Russian agencies, October 7)
Nemtsov, a leading Russian democrat, made no reference to democracy and human rights issues in Belarus. His comment follows the cancellation of Lukashenka’s visit to Russia over the Sheremet case and Lukashenka’s ensuing stream of invective against the Kremlin. Nemtsov’s statement signals that the Russian government is prepared to continue working with Lukashenka, warts and all, in order to consolidate the union with Belarus.
Lukashenka Orders Anti-Business Measures.