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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lukashenko Vents Frustration at Russia




Seemingly showing more frustration at Russia for dragging its feet on unification, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Wednesday that he feared Moscow may turn away from him in favor of the Belarussian opposition just as it turned away from Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.


"Maybe tomorrow you'll invite [opposition leader Semyon] Sharetsky to Moscow as you've done [Montenegrin President Milo] Djukanovic?" Lukashenko said at a news conference in Minsk, according to Interfax. "Where are the guarantees" that this will not happen? he asked.


Lukashenko was referring to Monday's visit to Moscow of Milosevic's leading opponent, pro-Western politician Djukanovic. The visit was interpreted as a sign that Russia was shifting its political support from Milosevic to the Yugoslav opposition, or at least introducing a more balanced approach. Lukashenko has been demonstrably supportive of Milosevic both during and since the end of the Kosovo crisis.


Sharetsky was the speaker of the Belarussian parliament that Lukashenko dissolved after a controversial referendum in 1996, which also extended his term as president. When Lukashenko's original presidential term expired on July 20 of this year, the marginalized Belarussian opposition proclaimed Sharetsky acting president. Two days later, fearing arrest, he fled Belarus for Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.


Lukashenko also announced Wednesday that he will run for re-election in 2001, expressing confidence that he will win again over the weak and fragmented opposition.


"You will have Lukashenko for two years until 2001, and then Lukashenko again for another five years. Excuse my indiscretion, but it will make seven years,'' he said.


Lukashenko criticized Russia for withdrawing its nuclear weapons from Belarus too hastily in 1996.