The Guardian September 19, 2001


Belarus: Blatant interference but Lukashenko wins

The outgoing President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has won an 
overwhelming vote in the elections held last weekend. He has secured about 
78 per cent of the vote against the 14 per cent combined vote of his two 
opponents. There was a 75 percent turnout.

Lukashenko was popular because he had maintained the regular payment of 
wages and the Soviet era social services and welfare. The people were able 
to contrast their conditions with the economic and social devastation 
across the border in the Russian Federation as a consequence of Russia's 
flirtation with capitalism.

Even the western media admitted the blatant interference from US sources. 
The Christian Science Monitorwrote: "While it is against US law to 
fund foreign political parties, American and European grant money is 
flowing to an array of pro-democracy and civil society groups, newspapers 
and political awareness campaigns".

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Minsk told The Times that the 
embassy helped to fund 300 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in 
Belarus. He admitted that some of the NGOs were linked to those who were 
"seeking political change".

The US Ambassador Mr Kozak wrote to a British newspaper that America's 
"objective and to some degree methodology are the same" in Belarus as in 
Nicaragua, where the US backed the Contras against the left-wing Sandinista 
Government in a war that claimed at least 30,000 lives.

A Victor Olevich, writing to The Times described it as "one of the 
bluntest [admissions] I've seen in recent months".

He goes on: "They [the US operatives] have been putting out anti-Lukashenko 
propaganda pieces and interviews with 'opposition' leaders in many US-
controlled Russian papers during the past week.

They're trying to do all they can to change the popular outcome of the 
September 4 elections by any means  including possible organised US-
funded 'protests' in Minsk following announcement of election results (just 
as they did after presidential elections in Yugoslavia last year)."

Earlier this year, the Belarus Government seized computers being used by an 
unregistered, "opposition" newspaper. It seemed the computers had been 
donated to the newspaper by the US Department of State.

Rather than being embarrassed that his boss had been caught outrageously 
violating Belarussian sovereignty, State Department spokesman Richard 
Boucher demanded that Washington's computers be returned!

Lukashenko accused the chief of the Organisation for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Hans-Georg Wieck a former West German 
intelligence chief (a former Nazi?) who played a critical role in uniting 
opposition parties behind one candidate. He has been charged with being the 
opposition's "chief-of-staff".

Lukashenko commented: "We will not have Americans telling us what to do ... 
We cannot be bought to our knees." He has been re-elected for a five-year 
term.

Russian President Putin in a phone conversation congratulated Alexander 
Lukashenko and expressed readiness to "further deepen all-round cooperation 
and contacts at all levels in building up the union state".

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