Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 47

On an official March 6-9 visit to Iran, Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka conferred with that country’s President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Majlis Chairman Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, spiritual leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei and top economic officials. The sides discussed possible deliveries of Belarusan-made components for Iran’s military hardware previously supplied by the Soviet Union or Russia. They also considered possible repair of that hardware at military plants in Belarus. Lukashenka suggested that Tehran might pay by investing in the modernization of Belarus’ main oil refineries — Mozyr and Novopolotsk. Bilateral trade is currently almost negligible.

Lukashenka and the Iranian leaders agreed to jointly promote a "multipolar world system" as opposed to a "unipolar world" — code words also used by Moscow to denote alleged U.S. aspirations to global dominance. The recently appointed Belarusan ambassador to Tehran, Leanid Rachkov, presented his credentials on this occasion. (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Radio Belarus, Itar-Tass, March 7 through 9)

Rachkov, until recently a committee chairman in the president-appointed "parliament," is known in Belarus as a former Soviet KGB official. Lukashenka is going on to Syria. His visit underscores official Minsk’s links with countries of poor international standing. Belarusan-Cuban relations are another case in point. At the same time, Lukashenka’s offer to Iran to invest in modernizing his country’s oil refineries suggest yet again that the erratic Belarusan leader is not simply a Russian instrument. He has long tried, in the interest of his own rule, to protect the refineries and other Belarusan plants from takeover by Russian business interests.

Zviadists are Offered Amnesty and Political Dialogue.