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Belarus: Short News Items

Prague, 6 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - A protest rally at Russia's embassy in Minsk has been forcibly broken up by police. Demonstrators have staged daily pickets for more than a month to protest Russia-Belarus integration plans. Our Minsk correspondent reports a number people yesterday were beaten, and some were arrested and fined. Two demonstration leaders were detained by police this week but released.

Chairman Of Ousted Parliament Writes Russians

The chairman of Belarus' ousted Supreme Soviet, Syamion Sharetski, has sent a letter to Russian parliamentary and governmental leaders in which he specifies what he says are violations of the democratic process, which have taken place since last year's controversial referendum in Belarus. Sharetski yesterday told RFE/RL he believes these leaders to be honorable men who will consider his views positively. Sharetski added that he expects to chair the next meeting of the Russia-Belarus Interparliamentary Assembly, a position to which he was elected at that body's last meeting in Smolensk last year.

Ruble Plunges

The Belarusian ruble-exchange band of 15,000-21,000 to the dollar did not last a full month, despite assurances of the newly appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Pyotr Prakapovich that it will hold for a year. A new presidential decree eliminated four different official rates in that band, calling for a single rate of 22,500 Belarusian rubles to the dollar. The new chairman of the National Bank, Henadz Aleinikau, endorsed the new rate. But, our correspondent reports that the unofficial rate of the Belarusian ruble, as well as the exchange rate in Moscow are reaching 30,000 Belarusian rubles to the dollar.