The Belarusan House of Representatives held its constitutive session on December 18-19, at which it elected the Soviet-era leader of the Belorussian Communist party, Anatoly Malafeyev, as its chairman; President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s personal friend Uladzimir Kanaplyov as vice-chairman; Belarusan KGB officer Leonid Rachkov as chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission; and another KGB officer, Uladzimir Yagorav, as chairman of the Defense and Security Commission. The chamber is comprised of 110 deputies from the ousted legislature who, in Lukashenko’s words, "accepted employment" in his new parliament. Some 30 deputies from the ousted body remain on the sidelines, and some 45 joined Syamyon Sharetsky, the chairman of the ousted parliament, in issuing a statement reaffirming the legitimacy and continuity of that body and calling on international parliamentary organizations to withhold recognition of the new one, dubbed a "pocket parliament" of Lukashenko.
The police yesterday interrogated the ousted parliament’s deputy chairman, Henadz Karpenka, as well as the former parliament chairman and first head of state of independent Belarus, Stanislau Shushkevich, in connection with their support for Sharetsky. The pro-Sharetsky deputy and Social-Democrat leader Mikalay Statkevich has been sentenced to 15 days in prison for his participation in the December 8 mass demonstration against Lukashenko’s personal rule. (Belapan, Radio Minsk, December 18-19).
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