Latvian Parliament Chairman Alfreds Cepanis and a parliamentary delegation arrived in Belarus yesterday on an official visit. The illegitimate Belarusan parliament, appointed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and therefore under international quarantine, had invited the Cepanis group. The visiting group also includes the mayors of Ventspils and Liepaja–Latvian cities keenly interested in the transit trade with Russia and, to a lesser degree, Belarus.
Cepanis himself represents a party–Saimnieks–influenced by businessmen who depend on the Russian market. The party has responded to Russian pressure by advocating political concessions. Cepanis is reported to have been registered as an ethnic Belarusan during the Soviet period, but this consideration is unlikely to have prompted his overture to the Lukashenka regime.
The overture is in fact being addressed to Moscow via Minsk. On his departure from Riga, Cepanis defined the visit’s agenda: “I would like to demonstrate to the Russian Federation that we can have completely normal interstate economic relations with Belarus, one of Russia’s closest political and economic partners” (BNS, Itar-Tass, September 23). All parliaments of Western and pro-Western countries in Europe regard the Lukashenka-appointed parliament as illegitimate and refuse to have contacts with it, recognizing instead the parliament forcibly disbanded by Lukashenka.
LUKASHENKA LAUNCHES VERBAL MISSILES BUT LONGS FOR THE REAL ONES.