Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07MINSK882
2007-10-17 16:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Minsk
Cable title:  

LUKASHENKO CRITICIZES PUTIN, BACKS

Tags:  PGOV PHUM BO RS 
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VZCZCXRO2059
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSK #0882 2901614
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171614Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MINSK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6581
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 1700
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L MINSK 000882 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM BO RS
SUBJECT: LUKASHENKO CRITICIZES PUTIN, BACKS
MULTI-DIRECTIONAL FOREIGN POLICY

REF: A. MINSK 003

B. MINSK 463

C. MINSK 875

Classified By: Ambassador Karen Stewart for reason 1.4 (d).

Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L MINSK 000882

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM BO RS
SUBJECT: LUKASHENKO CRITICIZES PUTIN, BACKS
MULTI-DIRECTIONAL FOREIGN POLICY

REF: A. MINSK 003

B. MINSK 463

C. MINSK 875

Classified By: Ambassador Karen Stewart for reason 1.4 (d).

Summary
--------------


1. (U) At an October 12 press conference with Russian
journalists, President Lukashenko criticized the Putin
government for limiting the GOB's access to Russian mass
media and stalling Belarusian-Russian integration.
Lukashenko advocated a "multi-directional" GOB foreign policy
emphasizing close ties with China and improving relations
with the West. End summary.

Lukashenko Criticizes Russian Media Bias
--------------


2. (U) On October 12, President Lukashenko held a fifth
annual press conference with 70 journalists from almost 40
Russian provinces. Lukashenko identified the press
conference's main goal as addressing Russia's "deficit" of
"accurate and complete" information about Belarus. Calling a
"single information space" an "integral part" of the Union
State agreement, Lukashenko contrasted the inaccessibility of
the Russian media market with the "complete openness" of GOB
mass media to "differing points of view."

...And Putin for the Stalled Union State
--------------


3. (U) Crediting Russia's regional governments with the
Union State's continued existence, Lukashenko squarely
focused blame for problems in Union State development on what
he called the Putin government's lack of readiness for an
equal partnership. Lukashenko criticized Russian plans to
build pipelines around Belarus to circumvent transit fees,
which, according to the GOB leader, Putin had guaranteed as
compensation for price hikes on Russian oil and natural gas
earlier in the year (ref A). Moreover, he described Russian
authorities' recent seizures and destruction of Belarusian
sugar products at the Russia-Belarus border as "scandals"
that do not typify a normal union relationship. Lukashenko
attributed such actions to a continuation of Soviet-era
Russian efforts to subsume Belarus.

GOB Foreign Policy: Lukashenko Talks Tito
--------------


4. (U) Lukashenko's comments on foreign policy were
ambiguous. Though critical of Putin's policies, Lukashenko
declared Belarusians and Russians to be one nation and good
relations with Russia the GOB's "absolute foreign policy
priority." Moreover, he echoed opposition to U.S. plans to
deploy anti-ballistic missile facilities in the Czech
Republic as a threat to security. However, he also described
the GOB aim of improving relations with the United States and
EU as "first of all." While arguing that close GOB ties with
Iran and Venezuela were necessary to compensate for
problematic relations with the West, he distanced himself
from GOB arms sales to the Chavez regime, declaring himself
"out of the picture." When asked with whom Belarus had its
best bilateral relations, Lukashenko replied "China."
Lukashenko tried to reconcile the conflicts and ambiguities
in these statements by comparing his "multi-directional"
foreign policy (ref B) with that of Yugoslavia during the
Cold War.

Comment
--------------


5. (C) Lukashenko alluded to the Soviet Union several times
to rebuke Putin's government. The obvious irony in his
criticism of Putin for creating a "cult of personality" and
restricting media were, no doubt, unintentional. However,
Lukashenko's bluster indicates both his disappointment with
the prospect of Putin remaining in a position of authority
and his continuing need to prove his leadership to a domestic
audience. Although the regime's response to the October 14
European March was relatively measured (ref C),we see no
indications that Belarus' dictator is embarked on a Western
path.
STEWART