UPDATED: 08:36, May 14, 2005

US denies involvement in "velvet revolution" in Belarus

The United States on Friday rejected Russia's charges that US Peace Corps was involved in plans to stage a "velvet revolution" in Belarus.

"We saw a lot of charges yesterday from the Federal Security Service chief, Mr. Patrushev. And I have to say that they're completely false. Most of them are ridiculous," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a news briefing.

"In 2003 when Peace Corps was closed in Russia, the Russian government expressed its gratitude for the assistance Peace Corps provided through the work of their volunteers and said their work in Russia's regions throughout the decade had been positive and useful.

"That's what the official Russian government position was, has been, as far as I know, to this day, on Peace Corps," Boucher said.

Russia's security chief said Thursday that foreign intelligence services were plotting a so-called "velvet revolution" in Belarus to topple the government by financing the opposition through non-governmental organizations ( NGO).

The International Republican Institute, a non-profit US organization which played a key role in Ukraine's "orange revolution" last year, met officials of the Commonwealth of Independent States last April in Bratislava and "earmarked a budget of 5 million US dollars to finance the Belarus opposition in 2005," Federal Security Service head Nikolai Patrushev told the State Duma, lower house of parliament Thursday.

Source: Xinhua