Belarusan president Alyaksandr Lukashenka yesterday urged delegations to an international Communist gathering, meeting in Minsk, to back the Russia-Belarus Union against Russian opponents of the Union. The delegations, representing Communist parties from most of the CIS and other former Communist countries, had attended the congress of the Belarus Communist Party, which supports Lukashenka. The moderate Party of Communists of Belarus operates in opposition to the president.
Lukashenka expressed concern that the Kremlin would increase pressure on Belarus to reform its economy. He praised state ownership of industry, decried Russia’s "upheaval under the guise of perestroika" and the "democrats’ odious policy," and vowed "not to talk to the Chubaises and Gaidars." "My policy and yours at this stage coincide," he told the assembled Communists. Observing that "Russia dislikes the policy of the presidents of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and others, because of their independence," Lukashenka charged that Moscow "equally dislikes Belarus which pursues an openly pro-Russian policy." Lukashenka described this as "ordinary stupidity," and blamed it on the Kremlin’s foreign policy coordinator Sergei Yastrzhembsky — "a second-rate man" — and other individuals in the Kremlin who are either "brainless" or "wreckers." He also chastised Russian defense minister Igor Sergeev for executing the order to close Russia’s military airports to Lukashenka’s plane, despite the fact that Belarus "honestly fulfills all its obligations as an ally." (Russian agencies, October 6)
Lukashenka has until now steered clear of an open alliance with Communists, notwithstanding his own nostalgia for the USSR, his anti-Western policies, and his resistance to reforms. The Belarusan president has, instead, chosen to work with the Kremlin, hoping for economic and political benefits in return. Concerned that the recent snub may herald a long-term change of policy in the Kremlin, which could also undermine his internal position, Lukashenka is now turning to the Communists for support. In Moscow in recent days, Gennady Zyuganov, Anatoly Lukyanov, Sergei Baburin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and other prominent Communists and ultranationalists have criticized the Kremlin for its treatment of Lukashenka, but stopped short of making a major issue of it.
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