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Belarus: Opposition Leader Blasts Russian Mediation Efforts

Washington, 25 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A Belarusian opposition leader, Zyanon Paznyak, says that Moscow's effort to mediate the dispute between the Belarus President and Parliament is motivated by a desire to maintain Minsk within Russia's orbit.

Paznyak is chairman of the Belarus Popular Front. He fled the country last summer and was granted political asylum in the United States.

He told a group of scholars and journalists in Washington Friday that Moscow wants to maintain Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in power in order to keep Belarus as "a strategic area under Russian influence."

Paznyak was referring to efforts by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to mediate a compromise to end the crisis over yesterday's constitutional referendum in Belarus.