- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2006

A blue revolution

Pro-democracy protesters demonstrated outside the Belarusian Embassy this week to demand an end to the authoritarian government in the former Soviet republic.

The demonstration on Monday was organized by the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) to coincide with student-led protests in Belarus, where demonstrators are trying to spark another color-coded revolution in Eastern Europe.

Georgia had its “Rose Revolution” and Ukraine its “Orange” one, and the demonstrators in Belarus are encouraging supporters to wear blue jeans or ribbons cut from jeans as symbols of solidarity with the political prisoners of President Alexandr Lukashenko.

The demonstrators at the embassy at 1619 New Hampshire Ave. NW on Monday demanded the release of political prisoners and expressed support for the protesters in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, said JBANC spokesman Karl Altau.

“From our perspective, Belarus borders Latvia and Lithuania, and we are concerned about the degradation in Belarus and the upcoming election,” he said.

An official at the Belarusian Embassy said yesterday that the government does not comment on such demonstrations.

Mr. Lukashenko is running for re-election on March 19. International monitors have noted fraud and intimidation in his previous elections.

Mr. Altau said the 50 demonstrators outside the embassy held Belarusian flags and signs that asked motorists to honk in support of democracy. The demonstration was the third monthly protest since November.

All the demonstrations are held on the 16th of the month to commemorate the arrest on Sept. 16, 1999, of human rights activist Anatoly Krasovsky, who helped finance the democratic opposition in Belarus.

In Belarus, protesters wore blue jeans or cut off pieces of jeans with the number 16 printed on it to hang on trees.

‘Sin and slander’

In Belarus, the U.S. Embassy said a program on state-run television “deliberately distorted” comments by U.S. Ambassador George Krol.

The “Panorama” program earlier this month accused Mr. Krol of “sin and slander against Belarus” because he has criticized the authoritarian government.

The program “continued its crude and unconscionable effort to misinform Belarusians about the views and activities of the United States and American diplomats,” the embassy said.

Cyprus and King

The ambassador from Cyprus this week received an award that compared his service to the civil rights campaign of Martin Luther King.

Ambassador Euripides L. Evriviades said he was “deeply honored and profoundly moved” by the King Legacy Award for International Service from the Committee for the International Salute to the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“The King legacy is truly a regal one,” he said. “It is a legacy of moral riches, of moral authority and of moral hope. But it is also so much more. It is a legacy that holds an inherent obligation, compelling an emulation of Dr. King as a statesman of hope and a strong man of justice. He has proven in practice that the word is mightier than the sword.”

Committee Chairman Henry H. Brown said Mr. Evriviades was chosen for his “hard and dedicated work for peace and nonviolence.”

The ambassador said that as a Cypriot, “I share the painful reminder of the destructive force of hate. The legacy of colonialism, extremism, a coup and foreign aggression split my country in two.”

Mr. Evriviades represents the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government of the divided island, which also includes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey.

Strife between the majority ethnic Greeks and the minority ethnic Turks in the 1960s led to the division of the island in the 1970s, after a coup engineered under the military junta in Greece overthrew a government that included Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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