Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 88

On behalf of a previously unknown "Belarusan Liberation Army," a telephone caller has claimed responsibility for two explosions which occurred on April 28 and 30 on Belarusan gas distribution pipelines, and also for an April 1 shotgun burst in the air outside the Russian embassy in Minsk. The claim, published in the media on May 2, included a political statement threatening armed struggle against "Russian integrationists and their Belarusan helpers" and for the reinstatement of the 1994 constitution abrogated by President Aleksandr Lukashenko. The president’s chief spokesman, Valery Talkachev, described the claim as "plausible," warning that elements in the political opposition may be forming "terrorist groups." Talkachev thereby contradicted the state gas company and the civil defense authority, both of which had described the pipeline explosions as technical mishaps caused by the aging of the pipelines. Last week, a phantom "New Order right-wing army" took responsibility for the explosion of a gas installation in a Minsk apartment bloc.

Leaders of the political opposition and its above-board "shadow government" (formed by the legitimate parliament) dismissed both groups and their claims as fictitious. However, leaders of the Popular Front — the radical component of the opposition coalition — warned that the authorities’ repressive policies, restrictions on peaceful political activities, and effort to merge Belarus with Russia will inevitably radicalize some youth groups not controlled by the Popular Front. (Interfax, NTV, May 2-3) The authorities may well be considering a strategy to discredit the political opposition through charges of terrorism in the runup to the signing of the Treaty of Union with Russia.

Ukraine, Romania Initial Long-Overdue Interstate Treaty.