[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Belarus state media rebuffs Rice
Remarks by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attacking Belarus as the "last dictatorship in Europe" have provoked a defiant reaction in the country's pro-government media.

However, in Russia - where President Alexander Lukashenko was meeting counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday - reaction is mixed.

A report on Belarussian state TV fiercely attacked Ms Rice, saying her comments - made at a Nato conference in neighbouring Lithuania - were "unprecedented" and "ignored international law".

The TV's correspondent said the United States saw Lukashenko's government as an obstacle to its "attempts to extend its influence all over the post-Soviet space".

"The fact that an independent state not controlled by the US exists right in the centre of Europe riles the US," he said.

The TV said Ms Rice's meeting with Belarussian opposition politicians showed the US wanted to "unleash mayhem and banditry in Belarusian cities".

The correspondent's remarks were played over footage of the violent protests which toppled President Askar Askayev in Kyrgyzstan.

'Coloured revolutions'

Fears of a US-sponsored revolution are also reflected in the government paper Sovetskaya Belorussia, which echoes Mr Lukashenko's comments attacking the new Kyrgyz and Ukrainian governments as Western stooges.

"The countries where 'coloured revolutions' have occurred are turning into Washington's faithful foreign-policy armour-bearers," the paper says.

However, the independent news web site Belorusskiye Novosti adopts a more neutral tone, saying merely that the West now appears to be planning political change in Belarus.

"Those looking at Belarus from that side of the border see not so much 'a strong and prosperous state'," the paper says - appropriating a quote from Mr Lukashenko - "but more like 'the last dictatorship in Europe'."

If you can't beat 'em...

In neighbouring Russia, the press is divided.

The defence ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda is critical, saying the US secretary of state showed her "eccentricity" in attacking the Belarussian authorities.

"All this after her assurances that the US is not promoting 'colour-coded revolutions' anywhere," the commentary says.

The business paper Kommersant, on the other hand, urges Moscow to stop propping up authoritarian regional allies like Mr Lukashenko.

"Even if President Putin's Labrador publicly sniffs President Lukashenko's shoes on a daily basis, the Belarussian president will still be doomed," the paper says. "The process has begun."

It goes on to add that Russia should even join the new Ukrainian government in seeking Nato membership, like Ukraine.

"If we stop erecting monuments to Stalin, lower the president's opinion poll rating to what he deserves, restore normal television, leave business in peace and hold two or three honest... elections - then we will be invited to join too," the daily says.

"And there's no point refusing," it adds.

However, the trade union daily Tribuna RT believes Russia could be next in line for a "colour-coded" revolution and urges Moscow to stand firm in relations with the US.

"No concessions, including the direct betrayal of our national interests, would provide safeguards against actions aimed at establishing in our country a puppet pro-American regime," the paper says.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

Rice talks up Russian democracy
20 Apr 05 |  Europe
Analysis: Belarus defies West
21 Jan 05 |  Europe
Rice criticises 'Kremlin power'
19 Apr 05 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific