Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 148

Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko told the country on television last night that he intends to stay in office for two more terms after the expiration of his first. He announced that he is about to ban rallies and demonstrations for the rest of the summer and take other measures, including giving the KGB and the Internal Affairs Ministry special powers to "stabilize the political situation." "Everyone must work, not campaign to remove the president… Should anyone try to remove me, I will immediately remove him," Lukashenko warned, referring to proposals by prominent parliamentarians to initiate impeachment proceedings against him. (Reuter, Interfax, NTV, July 29)

The warning follows the July 27 pro-independence demonstration in Minsk and the call by seven political parties, ranging from the Popular Front to centrist groups to the communist party, to resist Lukashenko’s plans to institute a personal regime. At stake is not only the country’s democratic development but also its statehood, which Lukashenko seeks to virtually eliminate through a close association with Russia.

The opposition is united in resisting Lukashenko’s accumulation of personal powers, but the Communists support a merger with Russia. Constitutional amendments prepared by Lukashenko for submission to a referendum would prolong his rule until at least the year 2008. While Lukashenko remains in power, Moscow is in the uncomfortable position of working with him to advance the two countries’ reintegration.

Tajikistan Situation "Serious but not Hopeless"