The US Settles Accounts with Belarus

Black list

In his address to US Congress, George W. Bush ordered to freeze the accounts of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenka, KGB chairman Stepan Sukhorenko, Security Council Secretary Viktor Sheiman, Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Naumov, Minister of Justice Viktor Golovanov, Prosecutor General Petr Miklashevich, Central Electoral Commission Head Lidia Ermoshina, President's Administration Head Gennady Nevyglas, Speaker of Lower House of Parliament Vladimir Konoplev, Head of state-owned TV and radio company Aleksandr Zimovsky, and Deputy Head of President's Administration Natalya Petkevich.

Nominal black list of top Belarus officials was accompanied by George Bush's caption: "There is no place in a Europe whole and free for a regime of this kind." However, the list is not complete yet. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is charged with enlarging the list.

The White House named the vote fraud during the last presidential election in Belarus in March 2006 as the main reason for the sanctions.

Aleksandr Lukashenka won presidency for the third time running with as much as 83 percent of votes. The U.S. also dislikes Lukashenka's regime for repressing the protesters after the election results were announced, amd the on-going persecution of opposition members in Belarus.

So, the U.S.

set a course for the gradual stiffening of sanctions against Lukashenka's regime. The possibility of such measures became known long before Belarus presidential election in March. Shortly before the election, Bush informed the Congress on personal incomes of Lukashenka and other Belarus leaders. Belarussian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called this information "black PR on the eve of election."

George Bush signed a decree on May 12, which is the first punitive measure imposed by Washington. The decree bans top Belarus officials from entry to the U.

S., as a punishment for electoral fraud, breach of human rights, and corruption. The sanctions concerned even the officials' family members and businessmen "who have business relations with Belarus government."

The U.S. adopts practically similar measures against Lukashenka to those of the EU.

In early April 2006, Brussels declared Lukashenka and 30 top officials of Belarus personae non grata in EU countries. On May 18, the EU ordered to freeze their accounts in European banks. According to this order, accounts of Lukashenka, heads of Internal Affairs Ministry and KGB, Prosecutor General, Speaker of Lower House of Parliament, and Presidential Administration officials?of over 30 people?will be frozen.

Thus, Belarus is now under the double blow from the West?the U.S. and the EU.

This only strengthens the effect of the pressure on Lukashenka's regime.

"Take it all"

US Ambassador to Belarus George Krol has recently promised that "if the decision to freeze Belarus officials' accounts is adopted, then active search for these accounts will begin." So, "Lukashenka's money" in the U.S.

is being looked for since yesterday.

However, Minsk does not worry, or, at any rate, does not show it. Head of Legislation and Legal Issues Committee of the Lower House of Parliament Aleksandr Arkhipov yesterday assured that US president's order to freeze the accounts of Belarus top officials will have no consequences. He said that according to the law on state service, Belarus officials are not allowed to have accounts in foreign banks. "So," summed up Arkhipov, "all these statements are unfounded, and demonstrate the position only of some politicians, and nothing more.


Lukashenka himself responded to the West's accusations of him even earlier. "There can be no secrets in our world. Especially, those that are ascribed to me, that I have allegedly stolen billions of dollars. These are lies and fibs. I'm telling my minister: 'Urgently prepare the report on my income, on my behalf, and write a postscript "take all my money that are in Switzerland or elsewhere." Because it is all under the CIA's control, they know everything.

So let them take it all."

Lukashenka probably has reasons to stay calm. Yet, these reasons do not include his confidence that Americans or Europeans will not find his accounts. Apparently, the American blow against Lukashenka's regime is aimed not only at Belarus.

Probing warm-up

Bush's order to stiffen sanctions against Belarus was announced three days before the Collective Security Treaty Organization summit in Minsk. The summit will discuss issues of coordinating the CSTO's external policy.

It is expected that the CSTO will be transformed into an international multi-functional universal structure, and collective forces for emergency response will be created.

The summit's intense agenda means that Moscow is trying to enhance the role and significance of the CSTO, and in a very specific direction. CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha yesterday said that "CSTO officials are concerned about the creation of NATO military infrastructure around Russia and Belarus."

Moscow, apparently, regards the CSTO summit as an important step in the preparation for the G8 summit in St.

Petersburg in July, to which it attaches great importance. The success of the CSTO summit in Minsk would allow Russia to speak not only for itself, but also on the behalf of a "serious regional structure."

US decision on sanctions against Belarus seriously undermines the image of that very structure, making at least one of its members look like a rogue state and a choker of democracy.

On the eve of the G8, Russia and the U.

S. exchanged lunges on Georgian direction as well. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Although the meeting did not solve any of acute problems in Russia-Georgia relations, it allowed Moscow to announce that it does everything to settle differences with Georgia and does not need mediators.

Yet, immediately after that, Bush notably made an appointment with Mikhail Saakashvili for July 5 in Washington. Speaker of Georgian Parliament Nino Burdjanadze was straightforward yesterday: "Georgian president will use his meeting with George Bush to set before him the real picture of Russia-Georgia relations and arrangement of conflicts.

This meeting is also important due to passing before the G8 summit, where situation in Georgia may be discussed."

Finally, there is another curious coincidence. Bush announced anti-Belarus sanctions en route to Vienna which hosts US-EU summit this week. The summit will primarily discuss Iran nuclear crisis and situation in Belarus.

Thus, the upcoming summit in Vienna may become Washington's response to the recent SCO summit in Shanghai, on the eve of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg.

.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.



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