Belarusian voters–but not PresidentAleksandr Lukashenko–went to the polls April 14 to elect a new parliament andto vote on four referenda items that will tie Belarus closer to Russia,Itar-Tass reported. Preliminary results of the parliamentary voting show only17 of the 260 seats were filled in the first round; runoffs will take placein two weeks. Voters have overwhelmingly approved referenda calling forgreater economic integration with Russia, making Russian a state language,restoring Soviet era symbols, and allowing the president to dissolveparliament. Members of the old parliament complained that Lukashenko hadblocked their access to the media and hence to the voters, and they said theresults would not be binding. Lukashenko said he would use his new powers tocrush any opposition.
Economic reintegration with Russia is already taking place: SeveralBelarusian regions recently signed agreements with oblasts in Russia andUkraine, Sovetskaya Belorossiya