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Jef Bossuyt
Why do the United States want a different president in Belarus?

Eyewitness's report about the elections and the Western interference in

Belarus

Belarus in facts and figures:

Capital: Minsk

Population: 10,3 million

Territory: 7 times bigger than Belgium

President: Alexander Lukashenko

Has borders with: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

State's structure: Until 1991 Belarus (Byelorussia or White Russia) was a

Soviet republic within USSR. From 1996 Belarus and Russia form "The Union of

the Sovereign Republics".

According to US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Belarus is "an outpost

of tyranny". An eyewitness's report from the covered with snow capital Minsk

just before the day of the elections.

Jef Bossuyt, our correspondent in Minsk

22-03-2006

Tuesday, the 7th of March, 6 PM. Minks looks very modern. A lot of

newly-built houses, very little rubbish on the streets, almost no beggars.

Surprisingly few election posters, with pictures of all 4 presidential

candidates neatly in a row.

In front of the Gorky park a few hundred demonstrators gathered to express

their support for president Lukashenko. One of them says: "The President

creates 5 years plans at the service of the people and makes sure that they

are fulfilled as well. There is no big gap here between the rich and the

poor. The average wage here is the highest among all the ex-Soviet

republics, it's possible to have a decent living on it without much

difficulties. We produce our own food and receive cheaply energy from

Russia."

Taisia Borodich: "Lukashenko applies social policies. The wages are paid

strict on time, the factories are working". Alexander Pernikov, mining

engineer: "For a family with 3 children the sate pays 50% of their mortgage,

and for a family with 5 children - even the full 100%. The agricultural land

remains the state's property. Lukashenko assures the stability, he did not

allow our country to be plundered." Alexander Buksha, student:"We are happy

with our monthly student allowance, and once we've finished with our

studies, we all receive job offers straight away,"

Democratic elections?

Wednesday, the 8th of March, 3 PM. In front of the Cultural Centre of the

Tractor factory. We listen to the pro-Western opposition candidate

Milinkevich during his electoral campaign: "I have met the leaders of all

the most important European countries. They want Belarus to join the EU. But

Europe is fed up with dictators a la Hitler." Radio Free Europe (the one

that is being paid by the US) records his speech in full. Milinkevich

continue:" These elections will not be fair, and the civilized world will

not recognize them. If on the 19th of March it will appear that this is the

case, we are asking everybody to come out at 8 PM and to gather on the

Minsk's squares."

The meeting finishes because of the bitter cold. We speak to one young man

who has asked critical questions: "My name is Vladimir Zubrik, I am a worker

from the Plastic factory."- says he. "Milinkevich says that he only wants to

privatise factories that are not making profits. Like if the West would be

interested in such factories! No, in our neighbouring country Ukraine they

have sold the flourishing state steel company Krivorozhstal , and here they

would like to do just the same: to sell to the West, to the US the Motor

factory, the Tractor factory, the Auto factory. And there would be nothing

left for Belarus."

Why are the US so desperate to get rid off Lukashenko?

"Belarus is the last remaining dictatorship in Europe." said the US

president George W. Bush on the 5th of May 2005 in the Lithuanian capital

Vilnius. A dictatorship, how, why? First of all, Lukashenko has "wrong"

friends. During his visit to Cuba he praised Fidel Castro as "a political

example for all politicians in the world". Lukashenko also would like to

have closer ties with the Venezuelan president Chavez, in order to support

each other against the Western interference. But there is more wrong with

Belarus, according to Bush. Belarus has different internal policy than the

other Eastern European countries. Even though everything remains within

capitalist frames,the biggest factories remaining the hands of the state and

the freedom of movement for capitals is strictly limited. The US see this

with suffering eyes. Because they would love to break Belarus open for the

International Monetary Funds, the NATO and the multinationals.

A recipe for Western interference.

The West would love Lukashenko to lose these elections and is doing

everything that is in its power in order to achieve that. It applies a

recipe that has already been successfully tested elsewhere.

Jef Bossuyt & Bert De Belder report:

The West would love Lukashenko to lose these elections. The recipe that has

already been tested in Yugoslavia in 2000, in Georgia in 2003 and in Ukraine

in 2004, is very simple:

1. Announce in advance that the elections will be flawed.

2. Create and finance an opposition movement that will take power from the

streets. In Belarus it is called "Zubr".

3. Spread your own results of the elections through the exit polls and

announce the elections invalid.

4. Bring crowds of the young people into the streets with free pop concerts,

meals and drink. Block the government's buildings and storm the Parliament.

In 1,5 years the EU has created 6 resolutions against Belarus. EU

representative Severin announced already 3 months before the elections:" The

elections on the 19th of March will not be free and fair". The Belgian

minister of Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht has called on Belarus to invite

the observers from OBSE - who have played an important role in the past

elections in Georgia and in Ukraine where pro-Western governements were

brought into power. (1)

Here are some other Western initiatives in order to support the Belarussian

opposition:

In Brussels on the Square Kleine Zavel, nr.3, there is an office of the

so-called "Office for Democratic Belarus". It is headed by Olga

Stuzhinskaya, an employee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the NATO. On

February the 10th this lady was invited officially to Washington where she

was received by R. Nicholas Burns, junior minister of the Foreign Affairs.

From February the 26th radio station "Window to Europe" is operational over

Belorussian territory - a daily information programme of 1 hour, explicitly

aimed at influencing the elections. TV and Internet can also be used for

the same purpose, with the help of the Russian RTV and the Deutsche Welle.

All of his has a price tag of 2 million Euro, and it has been paid by the

European Commission! "Nothing like this has occurred before,"- wrote Belgian

newspaper De Standaard, and "it won't be easy for the spokesman for the

Commission to explain this" (2)

1 De Standaard, 12-13 januari · 2 De Standaard, 24 februari

Observers as fortune-tellers.

On Sunday the 26th of February the Belarussian police discovered in the

office of one of the NGO's , "Partnerstvo", exit poll forms for questioning

the voters after they leave the polling stations. The NGO was planning to

declare the results of the elections invalid, basing it on these forms. The

desirable "results" of the exit poll were already filled in: Milinkevich

(the candidate of the West): 53,7%, Lukashenko (the current president):

41,3%. At this time when we write this, the official results of the

elections are already declared. Lukashenko received 82% of the votes.

19th of March 2006:

20:45 - Lukashenko is winning everywhere and is well ahead of all the other

candidates

20:50 - first preliminary results on TV: Lukashenko - 82%, Milinkevich - 5%,

Gaidukevich - 5%, Kozulin - 3%

21:30 - around 2000 protesters gather on October Square (not 7000 that were

supposedly seen there by the Dutch "Telegraaf"!) They have not just

white-red-white flags, but a big number of Ukrainian flags, red and black

flags of the Ukrainian fascists of Bandera, 1 Russian flag, several EU

flags. Slogans "Belarus for Milinkevich", "We believe, we will win!",

anarchists carrying placards with "Strike is the only way" and "Down with

the police state!", also nationalistic Belarussian National Front. The

protesters shout: "Long live Belarus!" and "Milinkevich". Police does not

interfere, several dozens of policemen are on the left, guarding the

Republican Palace, and on the right there is only 1 traffic policeman who is

doing his work. The cars are driving quietly, as always on Sunday nights.

22:15 - the numbers of protesters do not grow, but rather become less. Many

curious spectators are going home. "There were less than 1000 protesters!"

says one of the opposition's voters with disappointment. For the population

of 2 million people in Minsk it is indeed a very small number. It does not

look at all as the "folk masses".

Belgians in Minsk.

French speaking Parliament member Henri and ex-Minister of Defence De Donnea

were sent here by our Motherland in order to assure the truly democratic and

transparent presidential elections (unlike in Belgium, the head of state in

Belarus is elected by direct general elections, and this has to be done

democratically!) We met De Donnea on Saturday night on the 7th floor of the

hotel "Belarus" that was fully booked for the OBSE (460 observers). Could we

take an interview from Mr. De Donnea? No, we couldn't. Because De Donnea is

here as "a special representative"of the minister De Gucht and is working on

a report about the effectiveness of the European observers that seem to be

such a contradictory issue...He does not speak to the media because his

report will be confidentially given to minister De Gucht - that very

minister who demands so much democracy and transparency from Belarus...



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