The Belarusan opposition yesterday spoke out against Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s plan to unite Belarus with Russia. (See Monitor, January 14) Popular Front supporters picketed Russia’s embassy in Minsk with slogans protesting against "annexation" and proclaiming "we want to live in Europe not in Russia." Police attempted to arrest picket participants but were prevented by passers-by who intervened in defense of the protesters. Members of the opposition’s "shadow government" stated that the "economic synchronization" envisaged by Yeltsin as a prelude to political unification would, in practice, support president Aleksandr Lukashenko’s anti-reformist government. United Civic Party leader and economic reformer Stanislau Bahdankevich warned against any "loss of national sovereignty and statehood and the danger of becoming involved in Russia’s internecine conflicts and economic chaos." Instead of the proposed "synchronization," Bahdankevich called for genuine reforms, including mass privatization, foreign investment, and free enterprise, as well as for a national-cultural revival of the Belarusan people. (Interfax, Belapan, NTV, January 14)
Shadow government leader Henadz Karpenka and the chairman of the forcibly disbanded parliament, Syamyon Sharetsky, announced yesterday that the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stripped Belarus of its observer status. The PACE also considers President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s November 1996 referendum and constitution illegitimate and does not recognize the parliament created by him, the decision said. It also reaffirmed support for democratic forces in Belarus. The Russian delegation at the PACE meeting opposed that decision. (Interfax, Belapan, January 14).
National Bank president Tamara Vinnikova was arrested last night within hours of being dismissed by Lukashenko for having allegedly "caused gross damage to the state." (BelTA, January 14). It is not clear whether this action is related to the latest political developments.
Moldova Pressured into Military Alignment with Russia.