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Belarus: Leader Says Building Powerful Opposition Will Take Time

Warsaw, 10 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - A top leader of the Belarus Popular Front, Zyanon Paznyak, says "it will take time to form a powerful opposition to Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka." But Paznyak told a Warsaw news conference today that many world leaders are sympathetic toward the Belarus opposition.

Paznyak has spent most of his time in the United States since being granted political asylum by Washington last summer. Paznyak was out of the country last year when Belarus authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

Paznyak is visiting Poland at the same time as Semyon Sharetsky, the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet disbanded by Lukashenka after a November referendum that extended Lukashenka's term and enhanced his powers. Sharetsky made his way to Poland on a regular passport this week, after his diplomatic passport was seized and he was prevented from crossing the border in December.

At his news conference today, Paznyak says American and other Western politicians with whom he has spoken have noted Russia's support for Lukashenka, while "the international community is condemning him and his regime has absolutely no future."