Belarusian opposition leaders favor improvement in relations with Russia


Belarusian opposition leaders who have declared their presidential ambitions have called for radical improvement of relations with Russia and promised to normalize them if they win the presidential elections slated for December 19, 2010.

Sergei Gaidukevich, the leader of the Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party numbering, as he said, more than 40,000 members, identifies himself as the most outspoken supporter of deeper integration with Russia among all opposition leaders.

"Relations with Russia should be built on the basis of confederation, which implies a common currency and common armed forces," Gaidukevich told Interfax in outlining his foreign political priorities in case he wins the race.

"Belarus will not lose its sovereignty, which will remain inviolable, and Russia has never encroached on it," Gaidukevich said.

However, "allied relations should be built not on declarations but on a common strategic footing, primarily economic," Gaidukevich said.

He also suggested that the introduction of the Russian ruble in Belarus would enable the latter to import energy resources at internal Russian prices.

In addition, he insisted that "I have recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia," and therefore "nobody will believe that I am not an opposition activist."

At the same time, Gaidukevich identified himself as "an ideological competitor" of the right wing Belarusian opposition, which calls for Belarus' accession to the European Union. He admitted that Belarus should move toward Europe, but only together with Russia.

"We need to move toward Europe together with Russia. This is what multi-vector policy implies," Gaidukevich saud. However, "I am not calling for joining the European Union" and rejecting the possibility of consolidation with the right-wing opposition.

Andrei Sannnikov, the leader of the civil campaign European Belarus, also called for building "neighborly and strategically partner relations with Russia" but against the background of Belarus' accession to the European Union, which he identified as a key strategic avenue of the country's development.

He believes such a scheme would be viable, with Ukraine's experience born in mind.

"This model can and must work, which Ukraine's experience has shown," Sannikov said.

He pointed to "Russia's significant role in Belarus' foreign and domestic policy."

Alexander Milinkevich, the leader of the group 'For Freedom Movement' and a former presidential candidate, believes Belarus and Russia should develop "neighborly relations like two independent states."

"Russia has always been and will be a strategic partner for Belarus. We should have realistic and pragmatic relations. We should take into account Russia's interests if this does not go against Belarus' interests," Milinkevich said in outlining his position in case he wins the elections.

"Belarus should regard accession to the European Union as its strategic goal, preserving at the same time its neutral status stipulated by the constitution," Milinkevich said.

"Belarus' accession to the European family is a long way, and it is necessary to change a lot in the people' mindset, but movement toward Europe is a priority for the Belarusian population both historically and mentally," he said.

Milinkevich also said he opposed so-called "colored revolutions" and therefore views the nomination of a sole opposition presidential candidate as unrealistic.

"If you prepare a colored revolution, a sole candidate is urgently needed. But we strategically favor an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary way of Belarus' development," Milinkevich said.

A sole opposition candidate can only pursue an 'anti-Lukashenko' agenda, he said.

Milinkevich came in second with 6% of the vote in the March 2006 presidential elections.

He said following the tabulation of the votes that he disagreed with the figure announced by the Central Elections Commission.


Partners: Social Network