Belarus leader blasts Russia for reneging on pacts

MINSK (AFP) - Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday blasted Russia, saying it had violated agreements and forced Minsk to turn to the West and join the European Union's Eastern Partnership plan.

"You see, how our Russian brothers operate," Lukashenko said. "Everything we have agreed upon... all of this is being blocked," he said, without elaborating.

"I am not guilty of the fact that this integration (with Russia) has not moved forward and that we are developing ties with the West, entering the Eastern Partnership.... What else could we do?" Lukashenko said.

His comments came ahead of an expected trip by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Minsk next week.

Moscow has a formal alliance agreement with Belarus and has sought to create a customs union with it and Kazakhstan.

However, Lukashenko -- whose rule over the ex-Soviet republic since 1994 has been dubbed Europe's last dictatorship by the United States -- has made a push for greater ties with the EU to revive the country's shaky Soviet-style economy.

Despite criticism of Minsk's rights record, the EU invited Belarus to be part of its landmark Eastern Partnership plan aimed at fostering ties with six ex-Soviet states and dilute Russia's influence in the region.

Lukashenko said Belarus was counting on the EU partnership plan for badly-needed investment in the country's Soviet-era infrastructure.

"We would like to get what are we are counting on in the Eastern Partnership. Concretely that means roads, pipelines, infrastructure projects," he said in comments released by his press department.



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