Rice rebukes Belarus

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Pointing out that revolutions have swept through neighbouring Ukraine and Georgia, further south, Ms Rice said that elsewhere “opposition forces are speaking out about developments in their society.”

Her comments were made ahead of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Lithuania, where she is also due to meet Belarusian opposition leaders on the sidelines.

Earlier this week, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko challenged the legitimacy of the new governments installed in Georgia and Ukraine.

“All these coloured revolutions are pure and simple banditry,” President Lukashenko said, referring to Ukraine’s so-called ‘orange revolution’.

Mr Lukashenko won a controversial referendum last year enabling him to extend his presidential term for a second time.

Already in power for a decade, he said plans to stay on until 2010.

But Ms Rice hastened to temper her statements and avoid rankling Russia.

“I wanted to send a very strong message that the US does not see developments in the former Soviet states, now independent states, as in any way anti-Russia or meant to diminish Russian influence, but rather the normal development of democratic process,” Ms Rice said.

While recognising that Moscow has become a key ‘strategic player’, Ms Rice levelled fresh criticisms at Russia over its democratic record saying President Vladimir Putin holds too much personal power.

The Secretary of State also warned Washington would be closely monitoring the trial of former Yukos oil chief Mikhail Khordokovsky.

“I would hope that Russia recognises that this is something that people are watching very carefully and this is going to have a tremendous impact on how both the investment climate and Russia’s political future are viewed in the international community,” Ms Rice told the CNN news service.

Ms Rice will meet up with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Vilnius who is attending the NATO talks to sign a landmark ‘status of forces agreement’ with the alliance.

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