President Aleksandr Lukashenko yesterday outlined his position on relations with Russia in a telegram addressed to fifteen Russian nationalist and red blocs and parties who are contesting this month’s Duma elections. Lukashenko declared that "there is no alternative to the drawing together of the fraternal states" since the two are united by a common Slavic identity, history, and moral code. He decried the "numerous enemies of integration and open dialogue between our peoples," blaming certain politicians and media commentators for depicting Belarus as a backward republic under dictatorial rule. What the detractors forget, wrote Lukashenko, is that the Belarusian people demonstrated their "love and good feelings toward the Russian nation" during last May’s referendum in favor of integration. (13)
Lukashenko’s professions of Slavic devotion to Russia alternate with criticism of the Russian government’s policies toward Belarus and, increasingly in recent months, with statements that Belarus statehood is here to stay. The alternance shows that Belarus’s fate has to a degree become a political game during an electoral period in both Russia and Belarus. It can by no means be excluded that Lukashenko would again turn into an advocate of reunification, should the Russian government be able and willing to subsidize its economy, or should his communist soulmates regain control of Russia.
Karabakh Felt the Heat in Bonn.