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"Europe's 'Last Dictator' Seeks Votes" writte George GEDDA from Associated Press Writer .

Here follow a good exemple of american propaganda against President Lukashenko :

"Most Americans are only vaguely aware of the European nation of Belarus and its leader, Alexander Lukashenko. The country is about the size of Kansas, has a population of 10 million and has borders with Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Belarus, a former Soviet republic, suffered terribly during World War II, losing 3 million people, about 30 percent of its population.

The situation in Belarus today evokes memories of 12 months ago when then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic held elections and tried to manipulate the outcome in his favor. He was deposed in a popular uprising three weeks later, leaving but one authoritarian remaining in Europe: Lukashenko.

This week, Lukashenko ostensibly is putting his seven-year rule on the line by convening presidential elections. But few believe the main opposition candidate, Vladimir Goncharik, a trade union leader, has much chance of winning. Nonetheless, history demonstrates that when elections are held by authoritarians, there can be unexpected consequences regardless of whether the balloting is free and fair.

An example is Milosevic. His election gamble having failed, Milosevic has been sent off to The Hague, Netherlands, and is awaiting trial on war crimes charges before a U.N. tribunal.

The unraveling of the Soviet Union a decade ago was preceded by a partial democratic opening. And Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos fell victim to a ``people's power'' revolution when he tried to validate his strongman rule in the mid-1980s through the ballot box.

A year ago, the United States helped Milosevic's opposition with some success and is trying to do the same for Lukashenko's opponents."

Beside the american lies is a reality : Washington try to organise a new coup, like in Belgrade against Milosevic last year.

The US administration is spending about $9 million on get-out-the-vote activities and on support for non-governmental organizations, including independent labor unions, that are active in the run-up to the elections.

The European Union, Belgium, Sweden, Britain and France are similarly engaged. All refrain from activities that support a particular candidate.

Lukashenko was elected in 1994 but declined to step down when his term expired in 1999. He ignored efforts by the constitutional court and the electoral commission to thwart his bid for a second term. He organised referendum and larlegy won it. The people of Belarus suport his reform.

But the United States referred to him as ``president'' until 1999. Since then, he has been referred to as ``Mr.'' because he remained in office beyond the five-year deadline.

On two occasions last month, authorities confiscated special editions of opposition newspapers who receive illegal monney from Washington, drawing State Department criticism.

In response, Belarus' foreign minister, Mikhail Khvostov, accused the United States of ``crude and direct interference in the internal affairs of Belarus.

``We have again confirmed our readiness to conduct open, fair, transparent and democratic elections,'' he said.



THE US Embassy in Belarus has admitted that it is pursuing a policy similar to that in 1980s Nicaragua, in which anti-government Contra rebels were funded and supported (...)

In an unusual admission, Michael Kozak, the US Ambassador to Belarus, said in a letter to a British newspaper that America's "objective and to some degree methodology are the same" in Belarus as in Nicaragua, where the US backed the Contras against the left-wing Sandinista Government in a war that claimed at least 30,000 lives. Mr Kozak was not available for commentn (...)

The ambassador's disclosure has coincided with moves by the Bush Administration to gain increased political influence in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and with reports in several European newspapers, which said that former US servicemen believed to be working for the CIA were escorted with Albanian guerrillas from a village in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia earlier this year.

Earlier in his career, Mr Kozak served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs under Presidents Reagan and Bush, working in Panama, Nicaragua and El Salvador, and was Ambassador to Cuba.

While Mr Kozak was serving in Nicaragua, Mr Reagan famously compared the Contras to the French Resistance fighters.

President Lukashenko is popular and most Belorussians fear that a new, pro-Western leader would bring the poverty experienced by many Russians and Ukrainians after the transition to a market economy.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Minsk told The Times that the embassy helped to fund 300 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including non-state media, but did not fund political parties, since that is banned by law. He admitted that some of the NGOs were linked to those who were "seeking political change".


'The Times' 2001, Posted for Fair Use Only

For Nicaragua, Read Belarus

A Letter to 'The Guardian'

by Mark Almond [3 September 2001]

The Guardian seems to have a split personality when it comes to assessing US covert operations. On one page, you decry the "return to power" in Washington of key figures like Elliott Abrams from the Iran-contra scandal (Iran-contra men return to power, August 20), while on the next page you report on Belarus (Opposition unites in Belarus poll), without mentioning that the US ambassador, Michael Kozak, was also a key activist in the anti-Sandinista campaign under Reagan and Bush Sr and is an expert in ensuring Washington's favoured candidate wins elections (see Nicaragua, February 1990).

The late William Casey, director of the CIA 1981-87, apparently nicknamed Elliott Abrams the "Snake", but his petname for Kozak was the "Weasel". The only essential difference between the two men seems to be that Abrams is a Bush retread, while Kozak was a Clinton appointee. It is odd how much of our press repeats uncritically the spin put out by ex-central American hands, from William Walker about Kosovo in 1999 (despite his role in El Salvador in the 80s) to ambassador Kozak in Belarus today. Any bright kid with internet access can find out about them. Instead of writing indignantly about murky US deeds from two decades ago, the public would get a better understanding of underlying factors in recent crises in the Balkans and eastern Europe if you reported on the current role of so many veterans of the dirty wars of Latin America before 1990 in current US policy-making towards eastern Europe and the Balkans. For instance, at the end of June, many European newspapers claimed that 17 ex-US servicemen employed by Military Professional Resources Incorporated (the CIA's favourite "deniable" military assistance firm) had been among the Albanian guerrillas escorted out of the Macedonian village of Aracinovo by US troops.


Will we really have to wait 15 years before you write an indignant piece about how Bush Jr's boys are treating eastern Europe as his Dad's men treated Latin America?

(Mark Almond, Oriel College, Oxford mpahel@aol.com)



by Stephen Gowans

The United States has launched a massive campaign to subvert the September 9th Belarusian presidential election in a effort to topple President Alexander Lukashenka, who has been moving slower on "free market reforms" than Washington would like. And Washington is using a strategy similar to one it used to oust the Nicaraguan Sandinista government in the 80's, and to depose Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia last year.

The campaign, which involves funneling money to non-governmental agencies (NGO's) opposed to Lukashenka, a youth group reminiscent of the US-backed Serb resistance group that was instrumental in toppling Slobodan Milosevic, and Radio Free Europe broadcasts urging Belarusians to vote for Lukashenka's US-backed opponent, was revealed by the US Ambassador to Belarus, Michael Kozak.

Nicknamed "the weasel" by former CIA director William Casey, Kozak served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, working in Panama and El Salvador in the 80's, and in Nicaragua at a time Washington was employing various shady and illegal means to topple the Sandanistas, including illegally funneling money to the Contras. In a startling letter to a British newspaper, Kozak revealed last week that Washington's "objective and to some degree methodology are the same" in Belarus as in Nicaragua, sparking fears that Washington is prepared to up the ante if Lukanshenka wins the September 9th election.

In mid-August, according to Belarusian TV, Kozak told ex-Grodno Region Governor Semyon Domash to withdraw his candidacy for presidency and throw his support behind Vladimir Goncharyk , a trade union leader and former Communist. Goncharyk agreed to make Domash his prime minister should he win.

Last year, US Secretary of State Madleine Albright had similarly directed the fractured Yugoslav opposition to coalesce around a single candidate to contest a presidential election in which Slobodan Milosevic, incongruously branded a dictator, stood as Socialist Party candidate. Washington funneled millions into the coalition's war chest, and insisted that Vojislav Kostunica, admired as a Serb patriot, lead the coalition.

But Washington's hopes that Lukanshenka will lose the election could be dashed. An August 23rd AFP report says that Goncharyk "recorded only a 10 percent approval rating in a recent opinion poll."

Lukashenka, long demonized in the Western press, has come in for some particularly harsh treatment in the runup to the September 9th election.

The Wall Street Journal calls Lukashenka's Belarus a "semi-fascist" state . The Washington Times calls the country an "authoritarian police state" and an "unabashed dictatorship." Lukashenka is variously described as a strongman, hard-liner, tyrant, and Europe's last dictator, in a reprise of the campaign that painted Milosevic in similarly menacing hues. And, to top off the allegations, Ambassador Kozak calls Belarus "worse than Cuba."

But the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG), which sent observers to the country, says the charge that Belarus is worse than Cuba is puzzling.

Belarus has multi-party elections, allows the opposition access to the media, and welcomes foreign human rights monitors into the country. Cuba allows none of these things. And Cuba hasn't allowed an American General into the country since 1959, yet Belarus allowed NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Jospeh Ralston to visit the country on July 23 to address a press conference critical of Lukashenka. And while Cuba regularly jams US-sponsored anti-Castro Radio Marti broadcasts, anti-Lukashenka Radio Free Europe broadcasts go unchallenged.

Moreover, says the human rights group, "even President Lukashenka's most vehement opponents refused to characterize him as a tyrant or dictator, and none of the President's critics alleged even a significant degree of repression in society in general."

US-sponsored anti-Lukashenka Radio Free Europe broadcasts have doubled during the election period, backing up an already substantial collection of US-funded NGO's arrayed against the Belarusian president. A spokesperson at the US Embassy in Minsk told The (London) Times that the embassy helped to fund 300 NGOs, including media, many of which are opposed to Lukashenka. And a youth group, Zubr, bearing a uncanny resemblance to Otpor, the anti-Milosevic student group trained and funded by Washington, has been putting up stickers that portray Lukashenka as a criminal.

Despite its massive efforts to sway the vote against Lukashenka, Washington is hedging its bets. The State Department has already warned that the election will be flawed. Critics point out that this is a "heads-I-win-tails-you-lose" strategy, where Washington insists the fairness of the election be judged on the basis of whether its candidate wins.

Washington used the same approach in last year's presidential elections in Yugoslavia, warning, when it was clear Milosevic would do well at the polls, that the election would be fraudulent.

Ironically, Washington pre-condemns as unfair elections its favored candidates stand a good chance of losing, but is blissfully unconcerned about whether its massive funding of opposition groups and the antigovernment press severely limits the freedom and fairness of the elections it intervenes in.

Americans are prepared to tolerate no foreign intervention in their own electoral affairs, or even to allow monitors to oversee their own elections.

Key to Washington's campaign against Lukashenka in the West is portraying the Belarusian president as a repressive tyrant, an ominous sign that the White House may be softening Western public opinion for more drastic measures should Lukashenka win the election. But the BHHRG says that "opposition criticism of Lukashenka's Belarus lays the emphasis on matters such as foreign investment and the need to move closer to the Western mainstream," not human rights abuses or political repression. Political repression is a Washington invention.

Writing in the American Spectator, Daniel McAdams says that Washington's real beef with Lukashenka is that he hasn't moved fast enough on economic reforms, not his human rights abuses, which are grossly exaggerated, even fabricated, and, even if they were real, are hardly different from those of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who Washington supported. McAdams points out that the usual complaint about Lukashenka is that he abolished the parliament, cheats on elections, and is autocratic. But Boris Yeltsin ruled almost exclusively by decree, cheated on every election, and blew up a parliament he didn't like. Argues McAdams, the difference between Yeltsin, the admired reformer, and Lukashenko, smeared as an autocrat, is that Yeltsin was enthusiastic about embracing the free market, while Lukashenka's passions for free market reforms have proved less than overwhelming.

Belarus produces a number of consumer and industrial goods, including refrigerators, tractors, televisions, trucks, buses, petrochemicals, fertilizers, tires, not privately, but all under state control.

Washington, and the US-backed opposition would rather state owned enterprises be privately owned, and Belarus throw open its doors to outside, and mainly US, investment.

But Lukashenka, and many Belarusians, fear that economic reforms will produce the disasters that have befallen former Communist countries that have embraced the free market, like Poland and Russia. Russia, once offering a comfortable and secure material existence to all its citizens, has seen the number of its citizens living on less than $4 a day grow from 4 million to 147 million since adopting free market reforms.

Pro-reformers say Russian's economic woes are simply "normal bumps on the road to a market economy," but Belarusians have good reasons not to want to go over the same terrain.

Soviet Russia cranked out more engineers and scientists than any country in the world. Today, 10 million Russian children don't go to school. In 10 years the economy has shrunk by half. Real incomes have plunged 40 percent. A third of the country lives in extreme poverty, many on the verge of starvation. Eighty per cent of the people have no savings. Life expectancy for men has fallen to 19th century levels. The suicide rate has doubled; alcoholism has tripled. Old diseases, once thought eliminated – cholera, typhus, diphtheria – have come roaring back. The last ten years has seen, as Stephen Cohen of New York University puts it, the "endless collapse of everything essential to a decent existence."

Lukashenka is said to believe that the economy should serve the people, not the other way around, an out-of-fashion idea, and not one Washington is prepared, or has ever been prepared, to tolerate.

US governments have a long history of subverting elections when it looked like electorates might make irresponsible choices, as Henry Kissinger once said of Chile's fondness for electing Slavador Allende, a man whose commitment to the free-market was as lukewarm as Lukashenka's. In those days, you could point to Allende's alleged cozying up to Communism to justify the subversion of democracy. Today, with the Communist menace inconveniently departed, another, equally contrived menace, is pressed into service Apart from the infamous intervention of Washington into the electoral affairs of Chile, the US has intervened in numerous elections to assure that its operating principle prevails: we'll accept the outcome of democracy, just as long as it's agreeable to America's vital interests, vital interests being a vague, but high-sounding phrase, that reduces to: our right to economically dominate any part of the world we choice, which these days, on top of the Balkans, includes Belarus.

And so, as the days count down to the September 9th election, Lukashenka gets, what researcher and writer Rick Rozoff calls, "the Milosevic treatment." If Washington can't turn Belarus's electorate against Lukashenka, it's prepared to turn Western public opinion against him, and when it's prepared to do that, Washington is preparing to show its darker side.

Lukashenka is a marked man. And all because he thinks the economy should serve the people.

( by Steve Gowans, writer and political activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada)

When State Department lie :

Uncle Sam Goes Red in Belarus

by Daniel McAdams

Most Americans, if told that several million of their tax dollars were being sent half way around the world to throw an election in favor of a senior member of the Soviet Communist Party, would go ballistic. At the least they might wonder whether Bill Clinton and his left-wing ideologues were somehow still running foreign policy in Washington. The strange truth is that President Bush's ambassador in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus, Michael Kozak, is doing his level best to do just that. He has set out to make sure that opposition leader Vladimir Goncharyk is elected president of Belarus this Sunday.

Goncharyk is being sold in the West as the new breed of politician to finally put an end to the "authoritarian" rule of current president Alexander Lukashenka. What his supporters in the Bush administration have tried to keep under the lid is the fact that Goncharyk, 14 years Lukaskenka's senior, is President of the Federation of Trade Unions and a former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Lukashenka, habitually referred to in the Western press as a "communist hard-liner," was in fact merely a collective farm manager during communist rule.

The US government has nevertheless long condemned Lukashenka as authoritarian for, in 1996, holding a referendum to expand the powers of the presidency, which was successful, and for disbanding a hard-line communist parliament that ignored legislation it was sent. When US-favored Russian president Boris Yeltsin did the same and more, he was praised in the US government and media as a "reformer."

Currently, the Bush administration and Western media continue to repeat the unsubstantiated but salacious rumor of "death squads" roaming the Belarusian countryside producing scores of "disappeared." In fact, of the three or four names claimed to be "the disappeared," one, Tamara Vinnikava, has already surfaced happy and healthy in London. Another of the celebrated "disappeared," Viktor Gonchar, is widely believed to be living comfortably in the United States. The other one or two may well have been given a similar welcome in the West. Nevertheless, the State Department as recently as August 28, repeated these dubious charges. Spokesperson Richard Boucher said then: "Although the connection between the disappearance of leading pro-democracy politicians over the last two years and government-run death squads has yet to be proven, we do take these charges seriously." If the US government has no evidence that there even are "disappeared" other than the claims of the opposition, on what basis does it "take these charges seriously"?

The US government and Western media have also decried Belarusian President Lukashenka's hesitation to allow the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its 14,000 domestic observers to monitor the election. In last year's parliamentary elections the OSCE announced a month before the election that it would not bother to observe: they had decided in advance that the elections would be neither free nor fair. The several hundred international observers who actually did bother to monitor the elections in Belarus told a different story. The Belarusian president can be forgiven for questioning the impartiality of this monitoring body.

How did the West come to line up behind such an unlikely candidate as Goncharyk? Much of the credit must be given US ambassador Kozak, who Belarusian Television reported called a meeting last month between opposition candidates and told them to withdraw in favor of a single challenger, one Vladimir Goncharyk. This "pro-Western" member of the Soviet ruling elite even has a communist-sounding campaign slogan: "Vote for the agreed-upon candidate." Anything you say, comrade.

In all fairness to Ambassador Kozak, this kind of meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign countries has been the norm for post-Cold War US foreign policy. From Slovakia to Albania to Yugoslavia to Croatia, US foreign policy in the region has consisted of picking a candidate and making sure he wins. Anyone wondering why the United States is no longer widely admired in these former captive nations need look no further.

Though Belarusian voters hardly know candidate Goncharyk, he has been given at least two 30-minute slots on state television to make his case to the people. Another of the charges against Lukashenka is that he maintains an iron grip on the state media.

When a recent article in the London Times pointed out that Ambassador Kozak was acting in favor of the political opposition in Belarus, the ambassador denied it, in typical diplomat-speak, insisting that the millions sent to Belarus to "promote democracy and the civic sector" were not transferred to any political party. According to the official figures, the US government has sent some $4 million yearly for this purpose – a considerable sum in a poor country – and unofficially millions more have likely been spent. Much of this money ends up in the accounts of non-governmental organizations allied with the opposition.

While Ambassador Kozak denies that the US government funds any political parties in Belarus, one of the government's cut-out international assistance organizations, the International Republican Institute (IRI), makes less effort to hide the political nature of its activities in Belarus. According to that organization's website, in Belarus "IRI's USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development)-funded program provides specialized training for democratic youth, assistance to reform-oriented parties and literature development and distribution. The training is designed to bring activists into political party and NGO organizations and help prepare them for leadership roles" (emphasis added). The political opposition in this election happens to be Goncharyk, and such foreign support of political parties in the United States is, rightly, illegal. The USAID's own website says of President Lukashenka that he was "elected in 1994 in a vote judged to be free and fair." So, one may wonder, why are US tax dollars being spent to overthrow him in favor of a leading communist?

A Clinton appointee, Kozak's undiplomatic biases began before he even set foot on Belarusian soil. In a crude break with diplomatic protocol, Kozak pronounced Belarus "worse than Cuba" in advance of his arrival as ambassador. Some of us may have missed Castro's political opposition making its case to the Cuban voter on state television, or in numerous privately owned independent Cuban newspapers.

Most Americans should wonder why we are bothering to meddle in the elections of a sovereign country in the first place. As even rabidly anti-Lukashenka media like Radio Free Europe report that he is the most popular candidate in the contest, shouldn't the greatest democratic nation on earth allow the good citizens of Belarus to freely choose their own leader? Isn't that what the Cold War was about in the first place?

September 7, 2001

McAdams has monitored elections throughout the former communist world for the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, however the views expressed here are his own. He belong to the American conservative right, that has no sympathy for communism or Soviet Union)

(Copyright 2001 - LewRockwell.com)