With 105 votes in favor and only six opposed, Russia’s Federation Council has issued an appeal to the parliaments of Europe and North America, defending the Belarusan authorities’ conduct in the recent dispute over diplomatic residences in Minsk. Russia’s upper chamber condemns the “destructive response” of the U.S. and Western Europe, considers the diplomatic quarantine on Belarus government officials “unacceptable pressure against a sovereign state” and cautions the West against “trying to isolate a member country of the Russia-Belarus Union.” The Duma, dominated by Yeltsin’s opponents, recently adopted a resolution similar to that of the Federation Council, which includes many presidential appointees.
Moscow’s pro-reform mayor Yuri Luzhkov has issued a statement denouncing “the campaign of defamation which targets the Belarusan president because of his efforts to restore the ties among former Soviet republics… Supporting Lukashenka is our moral obligation,” Luzhkov stresses. He has also released a message, with his personal endorsement, to him from Lukashenka stating that Western “blackmail of Belarus” represents in fact “an attempt to exert pressure on Russia itself.”
The newspaper of Aleksandr Lebed’s nationalist movement, Chest i Rodina, in its current issue offers Lukashenka a rostrum for attacking the West and for praising Russian President Boris Yeltsin. According to Lukashenka, the West has staged the dispute over diplomatic residences as part of a scenario to topple him–“Russia’s ally”–from power. The West has “tossed this scenario to our opposition, along with instructions to destabilize the situation,” and adding “financial support from certain hangers-on of Russian power structures” (an allusion to remaining reformers there). However, Lukashenka pronounces himself satisfied that “Russia will remain the political ally of Belarus. The Russian President’s position is steadfast and Belarus is very grateful to him.” (Russian agencies, July 17-20; Belarusan radio and television, July 18-19)
MOLDOVA’S “TRANSIT ARGUMENT” WINS REPRIEVE FROM CASH-STRAPPED GAZPROM.