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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, 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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Times Talk


Thursday, Apr. 17

Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.

Friday, Apr. 18

Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.

The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).

Sunday, Apr. 20

Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.

Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.

Monday, Apr. 21

Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.

Tuesday, Apr. 22

SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.

The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.