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Belarus Unmoved Despite Criticism

Published: March 21, 2012 (Issue # 1700)



  • Dmitry Konovalov (l) and Vladislav Kovalev in a defendants cage in court Sept. 15.
    Photo: SERGEI GRITS / AP

MOSCOW TheKremlin onMonday hosted controversial Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko fortalks about deeper economic integration amid growing calls fortougher sanctions against Belarus forthe execution oftwo convicted bombers.

Lukashenko took part ina summit ofthe Eurasian Economic Community, which Prime Minister andPresident-elect Vladimir Putin wants todevelop intoa union offormer Soviet states that would rival theEuropean Union.

Belarussian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Rumas said after thetalks that participants had agreed onworking out concrete steps tocounter any sanctions. All sides agree that no group ofstates should put pressure onany member state, Rumas was quoted as saying byInterfax.

EU officials talked ofintroducing broader economic sanctions against Minsk because ofthe executions ofVladislav Kovalyov andDmitry Konovalov, who were convicted ofcarrying out abomb attack inthe Minsk metro that killed 15 people andwounded more than 300 inApril 2010.

Belarussian state television said over theweekend that thetwo had been executed, prompting horror andoutrage inthe West.

Germanys Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper called Lukashenko amerciless barbarian inan editorial published Monday.

Human rights activists say that thetrial against thetwo had raised suspicion about their guilt. Thedoubts were fueled bya Belarussian High Court decision inJanuary ordering thedestruction ofall material evidence against them.

Critics also said theseemingly hurried execution could be part ofan official cover-up.

An opinion has also been expressed that thedeath sentence was executed so fast because thetwo men knew something about thereal organizers ofthe terrorist attack, Estonian lawmaker Andres Herkel said onhis website.

Jacek Protasiewicz, aPolish member ofthe European Parliament, said the27-country union would probably slap new sanctions against Minsk andwithdraw its ambassadors permanently fromBelarus, leaving its diplomatic relations atconsular level.

Lukashenkos tragic, shocking andincomprehensible decision showed that he is not interested incooperation with theWest, Protasiewicz told Polish radio station RMF FM, theNaviny.by website reported.

Last month, theEU recalled its ambassadors fromBelarus after Minsk kicked out thePolish andEU envoys inretaliation forBrussels decision toostracize more Belarussian officials.

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