On September 7 the Belarusan army began a brigade-level staff and troop exercise at Lyasnouski training grounds near Baranavichi. Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Chumakov commands the exercise. It includes 2,500 troops and ninety armored vehicles practicing defensive combat against a hypothetical foreign invasion and electronic warfare. (Belapan, September 7)
The timing of the military exercise may be designed to overshadow the national-democratic opposition’s call to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Orsha as a day of Belarusan Military Glory. It commemorates the 1514 victory of Belarusan forces, commanded by the Orthodox magnate Konstantin Ostrogsky and assisted by Polish and Lithuanian troops, against Russian forces poised to invade the area of present-day Belarus. Nationally-minded Belarusan (and Polish) historiography considers this event a Western victory against the East, and evidence that Orthodox Belarusans can cooperate with Catholic Poles and Lithuanians to defend their independence from Russia.
HISTORIC TRACECA AGREEMENT SIGNED; RUSSIA AND IRAN DISSENT.