Belarus: Some Things Never Changed 7467-belarus-some-things-never-changedBelarus: Some Things Never Changed15 September 1997 Belamsian voters, by overwhelmingly approving a constitution late last year, gave their mo-communist president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, much of the authoritarian power he wields over society. Many attribute his public support to the state's stranglehold on the media. In a technique reminiscent of Soviet-era practices, state-controlled media often feature Lukashenka supporters making nationalistic pleas and testimonials in support of their president and his policies. Summer offerings on Belarus Radio included Anatol Barankevich, chairman of the small Belamsian Patriotic Party-which one observer calls the most retrograde orga-nization in Belarus-urging the expulsion of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) representatives from Belarus in a 15 July address. Two days later, the radio cited a statement by the abstruse Committee of Peoples of the USSR condemning the media ofBelarus's closest ally, Russia, for slandering Belarusians. The excerpts were translated by the BBC.

[On expelling OSCE representatives]
Esteemed listeners, hello! In early July 1997, there was a session in Warsaw of the Parliamentary Assem-bly of the OSCE, where, contrary to common sense and the will of the [Belarusian] people as expressed in the November 1996 referendum, the Warsaw Declaration was adopted, which is a direct interference in the internal affairs of our independent state. The assembly proclaimed the Supreme Soviet of the 13th convocation, which had been dissolved by the people, to be the sole legitimate parliament of Belarus.

Gentlemen well-wishers of the OSCE, your attitude of double standards and distorting mirrors is nothing new to us. Indeed, we expected nothing other than this, knowing ... your special love, in quotations, for our freedom-loving people and its leadership. But ... your efforts are in vain and senseless, and, what is more, you should not expect any support for your decisions on the part of broad sections of the Belarusian people, for the freedom which they possess was won at too high a price. ...

The Council of the Belarusian Patriotic Party fully ... supports the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this issue and urges state bodies to deport the OSCE permanent representatives in the Republic of Belarus who do not recognize our referendums, who misinform their leaders and try to deprive us of the right to decide our own fate, to decide how we should live, how we should work, and what our legislature and executive should be like. ...

[On slander by Russian media]
The continuation by the Russian electronic mass media of the campaign of slander against the people of Belarus and its president is causing alarm and outrage in the Committee of Peoples of the USSR, which has released an appropriate statement. It was signed by the chairman of the committee. Members of the committee demand that the Federal Assembly and the government of Russia take the necessary measures in relation to the leadership of TV compa-nies whose journalists are sowing seeds of mistrust between the Russian and Belarusian peoples at the expense of Russian taxpayers, the statement stresses. 7467-belarus-some-things-never-changed

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