Russian-Belarusian Relations `Won't Be the Same' After Lukashenko Comments

By Anna Shiryaevskaya -

Russia's ties with neighbor Belarus "won't be the same" after recent comments by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's spokeswoman said.

"Relations with the Belarusian leadership have clearly hit a dead-end recently," Natalya Timakova told reporters in the Russian Black Sea resort of Gelendzhik today. Her comments came in response to a question about Medvedev's blog devoted to Russia's relationship with Belarus.

Medvedev yesterday decried Lukashenko's recent "anti- Russian rhetoric," as well as "accusations and invective," which "go beyond not just the rules of diplomacy but also of basic human decency." Lukashenko has built his campaign for re- election in Belarus's Dec. 19 presidential contest on promoting the image of Russia as an "external enemy," Medvedev said.

In an Oct. 1 briefing, Lukashenko condemned the "flow of unscrupulous lies, disinformation and utter nonsense" about Belarus in Russian media, which he implied was ordered by Russia's leadership to stoke tensions between the two former Soviet republics.

"I'm amazed at the position of your leadership," Lukashenko told about 100 regional Russian journalists. "Maybe there's a lot they don't know. Or they're not terribly interested." The current state of Russia-Belarus relations "leaves much to be desired, to put it mildly," he said.

Medvedev shot back in his blog that Lukashenko should "take care of his internal problems" rather than criticizing Russia's leaders. The Russian president voiced assurance that relations between the two countries would survive, and that "this senseless tension will certainly come to an end."


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