Belarus, its president denounced in Washington as Europe's last dictator, accused its Baltic neighbors and the United States on Saturday of interfering in the country's internal affairs.
Bush, speaking after talks with Baltic leaders in neighboring Latvia earlier on Saturday, said there should be free elections in Belarus and ruled out any secret U.S. deal with Moscow to let Lukashenko keep power.
This drew an angry response from the foreign ministry in Minsk, saying any U.S. attempt to "thrust a wedge between the fraternal peoples of Belarus and Russia will fail" and that Belarus would determine its own path of democratic development.
"The Baltic states are embarking on a dangerous path of interference in Belarus's internal affairs. This is unacceptable and can create regional tensions," it said in a statement.
"Attempts by certain countries to implant democratic values in Belarus 'through the back door' are at variance with the building of civilised and pragmatic relations," it said.
Lukashenko separately poured scorn on the Riga talks and suggested the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were well advised "to study a map and show their boss (Bush) where Belarus is located."
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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