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Belarus: President Warns Media To Halt 'Information War'

Minsk/Moscow, 29 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka warned Russia's media to stop what he labeled an "information war" against Belarus, saying his government's and people's patience are wearing thin.

Speaking in Minsk yesterday, Lukashenka said the government had already allowed certain foreign journalists, among them Russian ones, to get away with too much. Lukashenka said that Russian TV reporter Pavel Sheremet and two colleagues, who were arrested over the weekend, had violated the law and would have to answer accordingly.

The three have been charged with illegally crossing the Belarusian border with Lithuania while preparing a report. The offices of Russia's ORT television in Minsk also have been searched and the reporters' identity documents confiscated.

Earlier yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement acknowledging that Sheremet and his colleagues may have violated some rules, but it called for a quick resolution to the case. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Sheremet and his colleagues were duty-bound to observe Belarus' laws, but it added that Moscow remains concerned about restrictions against journalists and free speech in Belarus.