Russian business financing opposition in Belarus: Lukashenko

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Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Russian companies on Friday of financing opposition politicians in Belarus ahead of the country's presidential elections in December.

Lukashenko, once slammed by Washington as "Europe's last dictator," said Russia should not give television airtime to Belarussian opposition, who he said are sponsored by Russian businessmen as well as Western grants.

"These people received grants from western Europe and America yesterday. Now they found another sponsor: Russian business. We know who gives this money," he said, though without elaborating.

The president, while meeting with Russian press in capital Minsk, also slammed Russia's authorities for meddling in internal politics and airing smear specials on him on Russian channels.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev "concerns himself with our elections" when he should "concern himself more with Russia, it would be more useful," he said.

Medvedev said on a recent trip to China that he hopes the presidential elections, scheduled for December 19th are carried out without violating citizens' rights.

In another jab at Medvedev, who recently fired the longtime mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov, Lukashenko proposed that Luzhkov moved to Minsk. "We salute such people. We will let him live and work," he said.

The Belarussian president has been in power since 1994 keeping a lid on dissenting voices.

Answering questions, he denied that his young son Nikolai, who has participated in public events such as military parades wearing a military uniform, is a potential heir to the presidential post.

"Forget the talk that I am preparing my sons, or my oldest son, as a successor. Power will not be handed down as inheritance. I don't want my children to be presidents in Belarus," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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