Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 187

Purporting to cite its embassy’s reports from Belgrade, the Belarusan Foreign Ministry claims that Lukashenka is being regarded as a “national hero of Serbia” for his supportive stand. The Serbs “would not have expected that this country and its leader would be the first to come out unambiguously in support of the Slavic brothers… [Serbs] are delighted that it was precisely Lukashenka who made this kind of statement which they had long expected.” The Foreign Ministry’s wording is evidently designed to demonstrate that Lukashenka is outdoing the Kremlin in terms of pan-Slavic devotion.

The Belorussian Liberal-Democratic Party–local counterpart to Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s identically named Russian party–has announced that it is setting up a headquarters in Minsk to recruit volunteers with technical-military skills for possible dispatch to Serbia in the name of “Slavic” solidarity. The party leadership further proposes to coordinate with Yugoslavia’s embassy the recruitment of former Special Forces officers with experience in military action in regional conflicts in the former Soviet Union.

Also in Minsk, a leader of the hitherto obscure Interparliamentary Assembly of the Slavic Union (IASU) called for the formation of a Security Council as part of that Union. The proponent, Syarhey Kastsyan, is a vice-chairman of IASU and also vice-chairman of the Belarusan parliament’s foreign relations commission. According to Kastsyan, the proposed Security Council could mobilize support for “Slavic states” against Western “provocations” and organize “retribution” against those responsible for military intervention in Kosovo or elsewhere. It may also perform a local function in Belarus: namely, “unmask Polish separatists and provocateurs among the Polish population… The West might use the Polish [minority] issue to destroy Belarus” (Belapan, Russian agencies, October 9).

IASU was created in June of this year at a pan-Slavic congress in Prague, timed to the 150th anniversary of the first pan-Slavic congress which was held in that city in 1848. That original impulse was later distorted in Tsarist Russia where pan-Slavism assumed an antidemocratic, anti-Western and anti-Catholic–not least anti-Polish–character, eventually becoming subsumed to the state ideology of Greater Russia. This version is currently being resurrected officially in Belarus, as was recently the case during Lukashenka’s meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksy II (see the Monitor, September 28). The recrudescence seems confined to rhetoric for the moment.