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Belarus: Envoy Takes U.S. Newspaper To Task

Washington, 11 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Belarus's ambassador to the United States Serguei Martynov has reproved a leading American newspaper for a recent editorial it printed criticizing Belarus and its president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

In a letter to the editor published yesterday in "The Washington Post," Martynov said he believes the newspaper "almost seems to resent calm, peaceful, nonviolent transition to a new Constitution in Belarus."

He referred to an editorial on December 1, in which the newspaper said the Belarus president was intent on a "power grab" despite protests from Europe and America.

The Post editorial said, in part: "The former collective farm chairman, who was legitimately elected president, proposed through referendum to extend his term and enlarge his powers by essentially making the courts and Parliament subordinate to him."

In his rejoinder, Martynov says: "Democracy is a rule by the people. The people of Belarus had spoken in the referendum. And the authorities abide by it."

The referendum, approved last month, gives Lukashenka broadened powers. It has been criticized in the West as illegitimate.