Upon completion of his working visit to Moscow (see Monitor, October 17), Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that he had held "lengthy talks" with Russian defense minister Igor Rodionov on, among other issues, the joint activities of Russian and Belarusan air defense forces and border troops protecting the "Russia-Belarus Community’s Western borders."
Meeting in Moscow yesterday, the Executive Committee of the Russia-Belarus Community tasked the two Defense Ministries with submitting, at the beginning of 1997, a concept of a "common defense policy." The concept is to focus on joint decision-making regarding regional security issues, the creation and use of joint military forces, and employment of the existing military base infrastructure for these purposes.
In interviews broadcast yesterday in Moscow and in Minsk, Lukashenko claimed the Western leaders support his parliamentary opponents in order to prevent unification of Belarus with Russia. For the first time, Lukashenko also threatened to dissolve the parliament if it continues to resist his demand for expanded powers. "The people gave me every right to dissolve the parliament," he claimed, and added that his "hands were untied by the parliament’s violations of the constitution." (Interfax, Belaplan, October 17)
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