Shushkevych: Russian nuclear plant in Belarus is 'an awful idea'

Peter Byrne

Former Belarusian President Stanislav Shushkevych on March 17 told the Kyiv Post that plans announced by his successor Aleksander Lukashenko and Russsian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to build a Russian-designed atomic energy plant nuclear power plant near the Lithuanian border are politically motivated.

“It’s an awful idea,” Shushkevych said. “Ordinary Belarusians know little about the nuclear power plant the two presidents want to build. Those who watch the evening news on March 16 saw footage of Putin arguing that nuclear power is the cleanest and most reliable source of energy invented by man. What he said was pure rubbish, of course, especially in light of the catastrophe currently unfolding in Japan.”

Shushkevych said Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart have yet explain what kind of nuclear reactor the Russians would build, when it would be put into service, how it would be fueled, or where the spent radioactive fuel would be stored. “Putin’s press conference in Minsk on 15 convinced me that he is using the project to accomplish political goals, not economic ones,” he said.

Putin has chosen to aggressively promote nuclear power. He recently offered a $4-billion loan to finance a Russian nuclear power plant to India. He met in Moscow on March 16 with Turkey’s visiting prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and re-confirmed Turkey’s plan to buy Russian reactors.

According to the Shushkevych, a fierce critic of Lukashenko, Putin wants to show his electorate at home that Russia under his leadership “has developed a state-of-the-art super-duper safe new model of nuclear power plant.”

“Putin's performance on Belarusian television on March 15 reminded me of advertisements made by Mikhail Gorbachev, who hawks fast food on commercials run by Russian television channels,” Shushkevych said. He added that both former Russian presidents try to sell products about which they know very little. “It’s obvious to me that Putin wants Russia to remain an empire. In his attempt remain popular, he is using plans to build a nuclear plant in Belarus to appeal to those misinformed Russians who support Lukashenko.”

Shushevych, 76, said he will travel to Kyiv on March 23-24 to take part in a conference hosted by Russia’s embassy inKyiv to honor former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.


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