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Belarus: 'Legitimate' Parliament Continues To Meet

Minsk, 12 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Members of Belarus' old Supreme Soviet continue to meet. Our correspondent reports 40 members assembled yesterday in Minsk, including Parliament Chairman Semyon Sharetsky and other parliamentary leaders, including most committee chairmen.

The group decided to continue meeting, as well as to seek support of parliaments and governments of other countries.

Periodic rallies continue in Minsk to protest last month's referendum in which President Alyaksandr Lukashenka further broadened his powers and extended his term in office. Sharetsky and other legislators, who refused to go along with Lukashenka's reorganization of parliament, have since been stripped of their mandates.

The West has criticized Lukashenka's referendum as illegitimate. Lukashenka rejects the criticism as meddling in Belarus' internal affairs.

Our Minsk correspondent reports that at a meeting of the Communist Party last weekend, the current Chairman of the lower house of Parliament, Anatol Malafeev, was expelled from the Party. The Party also voted to oppose Lukashenka on domestic social, economic and political matters -- but to continue to support the President's foreign policy of integration with Russia.