In a speech yesterday, Belarusan president Alyaksandr Lukashenka described as "authentic" and "alarming" alleged evidence that the opposition is planning a coup d’etat with Western financial support. Intimating that the evidence had been leaked from opposition circles to his security services, Lukashenka hinted that the documents implicate the CIA and Israel’s Mossad; he also accused unnamed Western embassies and the Soros Foundation’s office in Minsk of having been involved in subversion. The official version further alleges that the coup plan involves setting up radio stations of the Belarusan opposition in the Baltic states, Poland, and Ukraine. Lukashenka threatened the opposition with reprisals. (Russian agencies, NTV, January 15)
First aired on national television on January 11, the allegations may be timed to coincide with the establishment of a permanent OSCE mission in Minsk. The mission’s official Belarusan interlocutor, Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich, also went on national television to pronounce the allegations against the opposition as true and to threaten reprisals. Opposition representatives consider the accusations to be fabricated. They also noted, ruefully, that national television, in a rare departure from its normal practice, used the Belarusan language instead of Russian for the lengthy broadcast that incriminated the opposition. (Belarus TV, January 11, 13; Monitor, January 13; Monitor interviews, January 15)
Shevardnadze Receives Democracy Prize in Israel.