Arrogance towards the opposition doesn’t prevent the Belarusian regime from looking westwards.
Saving state money by canceling most of the privileges for children, elderly people, and the like is the new trend in the policy of Lukashenka regime. It causes a serious public discontent, especially in such places, as Salihorsk, the city of kali salt mines. On 2 October the independent labor union was not allowed to organize pickets in the city, aimed at informing people about the canceling of the privileges. No wonder local authorities are worried: the last thing they need is another strike in Salihorsk (on 8-9 September, 2007 Salihorsk miners went on a day-ling spontaneous strike demanding higher wages).
Anatol Liabedzka, leader of the United Civic Party, attempted to enter the parliament building in Minsk on 3 October. On this day the new session of the National Assembly was scheduled for opening. Liabedzka wanted to deliver the petition to the deputies, signed by thousands of people during the nationwide picketing, held on 30 September. The petition demanded the state to keep the privileges untouched. Plainclothes police officers tried to prevent him from doing it, but, after some scuffles, let him inside.
More photos of Anatol Liabedzka scuffling with police here (photos by Julia Darashkevich).
Meanwhile, the Belarusian regime is flirting with the West. Siarhey Sidorski, Prime Minister of Belarus, is touring Lithuania. Today he attended the official opening of BelarusExpo 2007 in Vilnius. Yesterday he had a meeting with the Lithuanian Prime Minister, who promised to invest almost $1 billion into the Belarusian economy. Previously (28.09.2007), Sidorski had a meeting with the Lithuanian ambassador to Belarus and expressed the desire to cooperate in the field of nuclear energy. According to Sidorski, Belarus is especially interested in the plans of the Baltic countries to build a new nuclear power station. The Lithianian authorities already offered Belarus to use the sea port in Klaipeda for oil transit. Lithuanian specialists think that Belarus will be able to receive up to 6 million tons of oil coming through Lithuania per year, thus creating the alternative way of oil supplies to Belarus.
For the opposition inside the country the regime has only fists to offer, for the partners outside – candies, which they seem to be eager to accept.