Open, friendly, comradely” was the Kremlin’s official description of President Boris Yeltsin’s December 17 meeting with his Belarusan counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka. That adjectival crescendo with its Soviet-era coda turned to diminuendo two days later when the first deputy chief of Russia’s presidential administration, Oleg Sysuev, declared: “I am frightened by rapprochement with a republic which has such a president with such ideas” (Itar-Tass, December 17, 19). What forced the Kremlin’s momentary change of tone was Lukashenka’s anti-Semitic remarks on Russian state television:
“The main anti-Semites in Russia are certain representatives of the Jewish population. Oligarchs have gotten involved in various economic processes, and they are to blame for the creation of the criminal economy. Moreover, they were in the leadership and did a great deal. Not the Jewish people, but some of their representatives, such as Yavlinsky, Nemtsov, Kirienko, Chubais, Gaydar and others, who are responsible for this. I was very reluctant to discuss this subject, but I think you will understand me and will not attach any labels to me…. To a president, to any president, this subject is taboo. This should be done quietly, without any noise, as it is being done in Belarus. This is an example for you to follow” (Russian TV, December 18).
This was not enough to keep Yeltsin from inviting Lukashenka to a follow-up meeting in the Kremlin on December 25, their second meeting in the space of a week, to discuss “strengthening the Russia-Belarus Union.” Sysuev has been the sole Russian official to react to Lukashenka’s remarks amid the general, condoning official silence in Moscow.
AZERBAIJAN CONCERNED BY RUSSIAN FORCES IN ARMENIA.