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Don't go to the occupied territories, Lukashenko tells his people

By Ernest Petrosyan
Friday, July 16
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has warned his citizens to avoid visiting Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia has confirmed.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov stated that since these territories became occupied the Ministry has informed the leaders of all states that visiting them would be both illegal and dangerous. “The fact that Belarus has decided to take this step while under obvious pressure from Russia is even more appreciated”, added Alexander Nalbandov.

Russia has made very radical and severe comments in response to Lukashenko's statement. Deputy Director of the CIS Institute Vladimir Zharikhin stated that The Kremlin will “teach a lesson” to Lukashenko, who considers himself a big man and wants to influence international affairs. Zharikhin said that Lukashenko's statement is a continuation of the inappropriate geopolitical games being played by him to irritate Russia. “He [Lukashenko] was one of the initiators of the tragedy in Jalalabad and Osh, as he sheltered Bakiev and gave him an opportunity to make public statements. Now he is playing such games with Georgia”, stated Zharikhin. He added that such actions damage not only the present situation on the ground but also the reputation of Belarus.

Georgian political analyst Gia Khukhashvili has told The Messenger that he welcomes such actions as Lukashenko's and the political support for Georgia they provide. However, he added that a coin has two sides. “On the one hand such support is good and welcome, but it will not bring any practical results. The more these occupied regions are being isolated from the international community the more they are being integrated with the Russian Federation,” Khukhashvili stated.