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Belarus: Guards Turn Back Parliamentary Speaker, Confiscate Passport

By Christopher Klimiuk and Walter Stankievich

Warsaw, 16 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Polish parliamentary officials say Belarusian border guards over the weekend turned back the speaker of Belarus' old Supreme Soviet, Semyon Sharetsky, who had been on his way from Minsk to Warsaw, and confiscated his passport.

Our correspondent in the Polish capital says Sharetsky had been scheduled to meet in Warsaw in a private capacity with the speaker of the Polish Sejm, Jozef Zych, who has repeatedly expressed support for the democratically elected Belarusian parliament.

Sharetsky and other legislators, who have refused to go along with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's new reorganization of parliament, have been stripped of their mandates.

Our correspondent in Minsk says that contrary to Lukashenka's promises that all supreme soviet deputies will retain their rights, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry has cancelled diplomatic passports of lawmakers who have opposed Lukashenka.