Thursday, March 02, 2006

Belarus Leader Lukashenko Denounces West; Poland Backs Belarusian Opposition And Calls For Non-Violent Mid-March Election

MINSK (Reuters) - "President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday defiantly told Western critics to stay out of Belarus's affairs, while an opposition rival for the presidency was beaten by security forces and detained for several hours.

Lukashenko, who faces tougher Western sanctions if a March 19 election which he is heavily favored to win is denounced as unfair, vowed to take whatever steps were necessary to prevent Western-inspired subversion of his administration.

Before his televised speech, academic Alexander Kozulin, one of two opposition candidates, was beaten and driven away to a police station.

He was released in the early evening as a second opposition candidate, Alexander Milinkevich, held an illegal rally in the city center -- with up to 3,000 supporters, more than usual.

Lukashenko, speaking for three hours, said his stewardship had boosted living standards. Western countries, he said, had no right to give lessons to his former Soviet state.

"It is not for (the West) to teach us about human rights. Let them deal with their own affairs. They have plunged the entire Middle East into blood. We see your democracy soaked in blood," he said. ...

Poland, which backs the opposition, said it would urge the European Union to impose economic sanctions on Belarus if Lukashenko used force against the opposition....

Lukashenko remains popular in Belarus, particularly in the provinces, where he is widely seen as a guarantor against the instability of other ex-Soviet states." ...

Reuters "Belarus Leader Denounces West" March 2, 2006 via

Palace of the Republic Performing Arts Center, Minsk, Belarus. The Beautiful Oratory and Performing Arts Center was completed in 2001, following sixteen years of construction. It is located in the center of Minsk, near the historic Upper Town, which is now undergoing extensive reconstruction and preservation following near total destruction by the Nazis in World War II.

When N. and I visited Minsk over the New Years Holiday, there was a beautiful Christmas tree and an ice-skating rink in front of the Performing Arts Center. [To the rear right in the image is the very moving Belarusian National Museum to the Great Patriot War (World War II); a war in which one quarter of the pre-War residents of Belarus lost their lives to the German invaders.]

Minsk's Soviet Constructivist 1937 Opera House survived the war's destruction since it is located in a Park setting across the river from the City Center. It is currently closed for restoration.

Minsk's beautiful urban Central Park follows the River and includes a beautiful and extensive Children's Park and a Modern Glass Kino (Cinema) Palace; as well as a powerful Memorial to Belarusians killed in the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s. More Belarusians and Ukrainians are reported to have been killed in that tragic war than were Russians.

Photo credit © Georges Oger 2004 With thanks.


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