Those who oppose Belarusan president Aleksandr Lukashenko and his policy of drawing close to Russia "have nobody behind them," Belarusan deputy foreign minister Mikhail Khvostov stated on January 24. On the same day in Moscow, Duma chairman Gennadi Seleznev said to visiting leaders of Lukashenko’s parliament that the Belarusan president’s referendum had finished off the opposition as a political force. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, January 24-25)
On January 25, at least 5,000 demonstrated in freezing and snowy weather in central Minsk in support of Belarusan independence and against Lukashenko’s "dictatorship." The demonstrators also expressed solidarity with those protesting against "authoritarian rule and colonialism" in the former Soviet sphere of influence, including in Serbia and Bulgaria. Placards and slogans denounced the "occupation" and "Anschluss" of Belarus envisaged in Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s recent message to Lukashenko. Some demonstrators held a rally outside the Russian embassy, where Popular Front co-chairman Yury Khadyka expressed "deep regret that Moscow does not understand what a tyrant it has bred in Minsk." Russia’s official news agency described the content of the slogans as "foul" and the language of leaflets handed out at the demonstration as "dirty". (AP, Interfax, NTV, Itar-Tass, January 25)
The opposition received significant external support last week when the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE recognized and seated the delegation of the Belarusan parliament forcibly dissolved by Lukashenko after his unlawful referendum. The delegation of the parliament formed by Lukashenko had to leave both of those meetings. (Belapan, Itar-Tass, January 23-25)
Armenia to Withdraw from Bilateral Talks with Azerbaijan over Karabakh.