Interviewed in the Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta, an independent newspaper sympathetic to the Belarusan opposition, Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov accused president Alyaksandr Lukashenka of feigning "integration" with Russia rather than actually promoting it. Specifically, Nemtsov faulted Lukashenka for obstructing bids by the Russian companies Gazprom, LUKoil, Yukos, and Slavneft to acquire equity in Belarusan oil and gas companies. Nemtsov also accused Lukashenka of breaching the Russia-Belarus Union Charter’s article 12 "on human rights and liberties," and of unjustly imprisoning the Russian ORT TV’s Minsk bureau chief Pavel Sheremet.
The same Minsk newspaper went on to publish a letter from Sheremet, which describes prison conditions and is said to have been smuggled from jail. (Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta, cited by Belapan, September 26; Russian agencies, September 29)
Lukashenka replied yesterday by rejecting Nemtsov’s "foot-stomping" and charging that Nemtsov and "certain other people in Russia’s leadership circles have lost interest in the Russia-Belarus Union." (Russian agencies, September 30) Lukashenka has repeatedly singled out Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais, also a first deputy prime minister, as the Russian government’s main opponents of economic concessions to Belarus.
Tabachnik, Following Razumkov, Returns to Presidential Palace.