Viewing cable 06VILNIUS278
Title: ELECTION EVE DUSTUP IN LITHUANIA-BELARUS RELATIONS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VILNIUS2782006-03-17 14:09:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000278 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB AND EUR/UMB 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV BO LH
SUBJECT: ELECTION EVE DUSTUP IN LITHUANIA-BELARUS RELATIONS 
 
 
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY: Lithuanian-Belarusian relations are tense 
on the eve of the March 19 elections.  The decision by the 
Minsk regime to deny visas to six Lithuanian MPs who planned 
to observe the elections led Parliament to pass a resolution 
condemning the Lukashenko government.  The Lithuanian Foreign 
Minister summoned the Belarusian Charge to protest the visa 
refusals, and publicly commented harshly on the Belarusian 
government's actions.  Lithuanian national television will 
host an election night event and a follow-up session on March 
20 to cover election developments.  In the coming days, we 
expect a high level of anxiety and attention here focusing on 
Belarus. END SUMMARY. 
 
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MPs Refused Entry 
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¶2.  (U) The decision by the Belarusian government March 16 to 
deny visas to six Lithuanian parliamentary would-be election 
observers set off a round of recriminations and guaranteed 
the passage of a previously-postponed parliamentary 
resolution on Belarus.  (Ten MPs did receive visas and, after 
much discussion, decided to go to Belarus despite their 
displeasure about the treatment of their colleagues.)  The 
resolution, which included criticism of the Minsk regime's 
actions during the campaign, had languished for days because 
of the dilatory tactics of Social Democrats and Labor Party 
members, who favored a post-election release.  But when the 
Belarusians denied visas to one MP from each of these 
parties, they resolved to respond. 
 
¶3.  (SBU) Several of the Parliamentarians whom the 
Belarusians denied are firebrand anti-Lukashenko Conservative 
Party MPs.  One of them, Rasa Jukneviciene, told us privately 
that the group expected denials, especially after the 
official newspaper of the Belarus Ministry of Defense 
published a scathing piece about one of proposed observers, 
Conservative MP Emanuelis Zingeris. 
 
¶4.  (U) Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis, speaking to 
Parliament March 16, called the visa decision "scandalous" 
and promised a harsh reaction.  He then summoned Belarusian 
Charge Vladimir Voronkovich to the MFA and delivered a note 
protesting the denials. 
 
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Lithuanian Election-Day Observers 
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¶5.  (SBU) Lithuania sent 42 observers to the ODIHR mission. 
Four members of Lithuania's Central Electoral Committee also 
arrived in Belarus on March 16.  The ten MPs who did receive 
visas will leave for Belarus on March 17.  Lithuania also 
planned to send an unspecified number of observers on a 
bilateral basis. 
 
¶6.  (SBU) COMMENT: The GOL has invested much effort and 
resources to support pro-democracy forces in Belarus.  This 
has not gone unnoticed by the Minsk regime, with the visa 
denials following accusations two weeks ago by Lukashenko 
that the GOL was helping to organize a coup in Belarus. 
Lithuanian national television will host an election-night 
event March 19 for government leaders, NGOs, and the media, 
which the Ambassador will attend.  We expect tensions to be 
high as Lithuania contemplates the possibility that relations 
with its problematic neighbor may get even worse after the 
elections. 
MULL