Yevgeny Primakov has selected Belarus as the first country he will visit in his new capacity as prime minister of Russia. He was cited as stating that the decision “reflects the two countries’ fraternal relations and Union treaty.” In a telephone conversation yesterday, Primakov and Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka scheduled the visit for September 30. Primakov’s gesture is all the more noteworthy in light of his spokesman’s statement, also yesterday, that the prime minister would limit his travel outside Russia to a “strict minimum” before finalizing the government’s composition and program (Itar-Tass, September 22).
Lukashenka and his team have hailed Primakov’s promotion, describing him as a leading promoter of close ties between the Kremlin and the Belarusan president (see the Monitor, September 11, 15). On September 19, Lukashenka stated in a speech that Primakov “thinks the way I do on many, many issues. He and I are like-minded men” (Russian TV, September 19; Russian agencies, September 21).
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