Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi, Russia today, the site of the 2014 Olympics. The two leaders will put the best face on Putin’s support for Lukashenko’s recent election win that many see as rigged.
The Belarusian leader has indicated he may be willing to step down in time and a smooth transition is most likely to be planned. Putin does not want Lukashenko removed in a ‘color revolution’.
According to the Delta news agency, the two leaders will discuss the current state and prospects for bilateral cooperation in various fields, allied relations, discuss international issues, the situation in the region and issues related to joint response to emerging challenges, reports Russian state news agency TASS.
The Kremlin press service reported that the leaders plan to discuss key issues of further development of Russian-Belarusian relations of strategic partnership and alliance. “A special focus will be placed on the implementation of major joint projects in the trade-economic, energy and cultural-humanitarian spheres, as well as the prospects for promoting integration processes within the Union State,” the Russian leader’s press service noted.
The ‘Union State’ is a loose political confederation created between Russia and Belarus after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Protests continue in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, with over 100,00 protesters recently in the streets.
The opposition ‘Coordination Council’, essentially a government in exile that believes it was duly-elected, made it clear that any agreements signed by the two leaders in Sochi would ‘be reviewed’ as they see Lukashenko as an illegitimate leader.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskya has criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to hold talks with “usurper” Alexander Lukashenko rather than the Belarusian people, reported The Moscow Times.
“No agreements made in Sochi will be considered legitimate,” Tikhanovskaya said in a message on her official Telegram channel. “All accords signed with the illegitimate Lukashenko will be reconsidered by the new government because the Belarusian people refused Lukashenko their trust and electoral support.”
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