Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 36

When Yevgeny Primakov became Prime Minister of Russia, a delighted Alyaksandr Lukashenka described him as “my think-alike” (moy yedinomyshlennik), a high compliment in Russian political parlance. On February 17, the Belarusan president upped his estimate even further: “Yevgeny Primakov is, I might say, my teacher,” Lukashenka told the Belarusan press. He paid this homage in the context of attacking Russia’s reformers–“who carried out the West’s policy of splitting up the peoples of the USSR”–until replaced by “right-thinking men such as Yevgeny Primakov after whom we orient ourselves.”

Yet in the same speech Lukashenka ventured to advise Primakov that he [Primakov] introduce in Russia the Belarusan model of the “vertical model of power”–whereby heads of regional administrations are appointed by and answerable to the president directly, rather than being elected in the regions (Russian agencies, February 17). Yesterday, the “teacher” appeared to take a leaf from his self-declared disciple’s book. Primakov called for the restoration in Russia of a “strictly vertical model of rule,” in place of the popular election of governors and other heads of territorial units (Itar-Tass, February 21).