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All Sides Deny CIA Plot to Overthrow Belarus Regime

Washington, Moscow; July 26 (RFE/RL) -- U.S., Belarusian, and Polish security officials today deny a claim by a top Russian parliamentarian that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is preparing to overthrow the president of Belarus.

Communist Viktor Ilyukhin, the head of the Russian State Duma's security committee, said yesterday that top CIA agents have set up a base in Warsaw to engineer the overthrow of Belarus' President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

But another senior deputy of the Duma apologized at a news conference in Moscow today to Belarusian lawmakers over the allegations. Alexander Shokin, deputy speaker of the Duma, said Ilyukhin's charges were in his words, "a fuss made up from nothing."

However, Ilyukhin stood by his statement today, telling the Interfax news agency it was based on absolutely reliable sources and would, as he put it, "help to thwart the intentions of Western special services."

The CIA responded to Ilyukhin's accusations with a brief statement, saying the notion that it is preparing to remove the president of Belarus is categorical nonsense.

In Moscow, U.S. Embassy spokesman Robert Hilton said the U.S. has no intention whatsoever of undermining the Belarusian government, and that the two countries enjoy friendly bi-lateral relations.

Poland's Interior Minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski issued a denial that CIA preparations for a coup in Belarus are taking place in Poland.

In Minsk, General Viktor Mackiewicz, a Belarus state security (KGB) spokesman, told the Itar-Tass news agency that his agency has no information at its disposal that the CIA is engaged in any sort of operations aimed against Belarus.