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<nettime> Lukashenko: "NATO Soldiers are Deserting by Thousands"
Cathy Fitzpatrick on Sat, 17 Apr 1999 00:24:40 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Lukashenko: "NATO Soldiers are Deserting by Thousands"


The following report prepared by journalists in Minsk, illustrates the kind
of blatant Soviet-style propaganda still used in Belarus (thousands of NATO
soldiers defecting??!!), misleading statements like "the alleged Serb
offensive is a lie; the truth is that Kosovar separatists  supported by NATO
troops broke into Yugoslavia, a trial run for NATO ground operation."

Lukashenko now has virtual total control of the airwaves in this country of
10 million, nestled between Poland, a new NATO member, and Russia, which has
pulled out of NATO's Partnership for Peace. Months ago, his ministers had to
make public announcements that they were in fact NOT recruiting volunteers
to fight on the side of the Serbs, a propagandistic move that indicates they
may have been preparing some elements of the armed forces for such a role,
i.e. by simulating popular outrage and willingness to sign up to help their
Slavic brethren.  Under cover of the Kosovo war, Lukashenko has moved to
arrest and further harass the main opposition leaders, one of whom also just
died at the age of 49. A major complaint of the opposition is that
Lukashenko desires to move nuclear missiles back into Belarus, and that he
engages in arms trade with rogue states. So while a neglected and seemingly
insignificant backwater, Belarus, a transit country between Russia, the
Baltics, and Poland, could become a linchpin in a Russian hardliners'
strategy to support Milosevic. Lukashenko has many soul mates in places like
North Korea and Iraq and Iran and also the "red belt" in Russia's provinces,
where he frequently travels and is treated as a hero.

In November 1998, Belarusian Lukashenko loyalists in the pocket parliament,
Russian communists and neofascists from the Duma (parliament), and Serbs,
notably Seselj, convened a Slavic brotherhood fest in Yaroslavl. At that
time, when we pointed this out in alarm to U.S. ambassadors, they laughed
and thought it was just insignificant posturing.

There has been a pattern of worsening human rights abuse in Belarus in the
last three years parallel to the push, along with Russian hardliners, to
form a Belarusian-Russian "Union," which may now include Serbia. The one
factor preventing Lukashenko, who is said to aspire to the Russian throne,
from being elected in Russia as president is that the bill on dual
citizenship has not yet been passed by the joint parliamentary structure.
Belarusians believe that the youthful, energetic, and fascistic Lukashenko
would make a popular running mate, or front man, for communist and
neo-fascistic movements in Russia.  The fascistic Russian National Unity
party, which even Mayor Luzhkov kicked out of Moscow, has surfaced in Minsk,
where it roams freely, attacking democratic leaders on the street.

Cathy Fitzpatrick

Minsk
Subject:        Lukashenko's Answers at Airport

Last night, April 14, Lukashenko gave a press conference at the Minsk
international airport after his return from Belgrade.  The footage was
apparently prepared for broadcast in a haste--the questions were muffled
and sometimes parts of them clipped out so that the their meaning was
barely understandable.  Lukashenko opened the press conference with his
conclusions from the trip which follow:

1.  That's not just their [the Serbs'] war.  They are fighting not just
for themselves.  It's a test of a future scenario.

2.  They [NATO] will not submit Serbs.  Hundreds of civilians perished in
airstrikes and only a few of the military personnel.  The alleged Serbian
offensive into Albania is a lie--the truth is that Kosovar separatists
supported by NATO troops broke into Yugoslavia, a trial run for NATO
ground operation.  3 Serb soldiers were killed and hundreds of the
attackers, among whom there are NATO soldiers as well.

3.  NATO has to stop while there is still a way to save face.

4.  Kosovo is Serbs' land.  Its secession or otherwise division of the
Serbian territory is inacceptable and non-negotiable.  Kosovars and Serbs
have to settle the "so-called" humanitarian catastrophe themselves.   The
process of peaceful settlement is being hampered now by those who were
previously pressing for it.

5.  Compromise is the only way for both sides [Yugoslavia and NATO] to
go.  Milosevic agrees to civilian, unarmed observers from the United
Nations trampled underfoot but will never agree to a NATO soldier set
foot in Yugoslavia.  The Yugoslavs are prepared to move their troops out
of Kosovo as much as NATO troops are pulled away from the Yugoslav border
in the territories of Macedonia and Albania.  [INTERESTING]  No troops in
Macedonia and Albania, easier to negotiate.

Answering the questions from the press, Lukashenko said, in particular,
that "after we have decided who we are with [referring to the requested
Yugoslavia's accession to the Russia-Belarus union], we will then decide
about the type and amount of our assistance to Yugoslavia."  Lukashenko
ruled out that Montenegro can be an independent part of this--"Yugoslavia
as one whole only."  "And not just Yugoslavia," Lukashenko added later.
"Countries in between us and Yugoslavia will be exposed to a very strong
influence, too."

When asked about what he personally may decide to do should the Serbs'
peace plan be refused, Lukashenko said that he is "limited in actions by
what Russia will be prepared to do."

Lukashenko told the journalists that "NATO soldiers are deserting by
thousands" and presented Milosevic's war statistics: 34 NATO aircraft
downed, 2 NATO rescue helicopters downed each carrying 20 people, no
single Serbian tank or artillery piece damaged, three Serbian radars
suffered minor damage and were repaired within hours.

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