Books on Belarus
Update No: 320 - (31/08/07)
Belarus is in a time warp. This is thanks to its president, Alexander Lukashenko
who is a Soviet fossil. That might be thought to endear him to Putin, another of
the same. But there is an issue of fossil fuels that keeps these two
Neanderthaloid fossils apart.
Belarus is dependent on Russia for its energy. So are countries to the west of
it reliant on Russian supplies of gas via pipelines through Belarus. There are
Belarussian busybodies who are not above pilfering transit gas - an easy enough
matter, with a little bit of ingenuity.
Moscow has responded by upping its charges for gas sold to Belarus. It will soon
have to pay full market prices. But who in the end doesn't?
Belarus confronts the US
Belarus in its present guise has another enemy, the United States. Condelezza
Rice, US Secretary of State, has decried it as the redoubt of the 'last
dictatorship in Europe.'
Last year, the United States and the European Union slapped travel sanctions on
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron
fist for more than a decade, and other top government officials. The Belarusian
leader has quashed dissent and opposition groups and built a Soviet-style,
centrally controlled economy that has historically been heavily reliant on cheap
Russian energy supplies.
The travel sanctions followed the arrests and harassment of opponents and others
during a 2006 election that gave Lukashenko a third term, but was roundly
criticized as deeply flawed by Belarusian opposition groups and many Western
TransAtlantic and TransBaltic tit-for tat
The Belarus government has warned that some American officials will be barred
from entering Belarus in response to the recent expansion of U.S. visa
restrictions on Belarusian authorities. "In response to the unfriendly
actions of the United States, Belarus will implement corresponding visa
restrictions applying to certain categories of American officials," Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman Marina Vanshina said, without naming the officials or say
how many there were.
But Belarus will make it easier for ordinary American citizens to enter the
tightly controlled former Soviet republic, Vanshina said in her comments. U.S.
applications for stays of one month or less will not require an invitation from
inside the nation.
The U.S. earlier in August expanded a list of Belarusians whose visa
applications are subject to enhanced scrutiny, a move aimed at barring entry to
anyone responsible for actions that "threaten the transition to democracy