Minsk (AFP) April 26, 2011
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Tuesday denounced the head of the EU commission as an "ass" and rounded on Ukraine's president in apparent fury at arrangements for the Chernobyl anniversary.
Lukashenko was notably absent from ceremonies at Chernobyl to mark the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster, even though his country was badly affected and his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts visited the power station.
Instead, Lukashenko made his own solo tour Tuesday of farmlands in the Gomel region of southern Belarus worst affected by the disaster.
Asked by Belarussian media why he had not travelled to Ukraine to join Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for the ceremonies at Chernobyl, he replied:
"Ask Yanukovych that question, why the Belarussian president is not present at the events. Ask them! Unfortunately the current Ukrainian leadership has an absolute nerve," he said.
"I don't intend to play the second fiddle."
Ukrainian media said that EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso had asked Kiev not to invite the authoritarian Belarussian leader to a conference in Kiev last week on the consequences of the disaster.
Ukraine complied with the EU demand, hoping he would still show up to the Chernobyl anniversary, but it appeared the Belarussian strongman had taken offence.
Turning on the Portuguese EU commission chief, Lukashenko added: "As for asses like Barroso, well there was once some Barroso in Portugal, they kicked him out and then sorted him out with work in the EU commission."
Lukashenko has been ostracised by the European Union since his December 19 election victory, which Western monitors said was flawed and was also followed by an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition.
He slammed the EU for imposing sanctions against his regime since the election. "They are just morons. For them, we are competitors. We are ideological opponents.
"We are people who lead a different way of life. We are dangerous for them. We do not need their kind of democracy."
He also appeared to take aim at the solemn ceremonies at Chernobyl. "Maybe it's nice to go and lay wreaths but I need to see with my own eyes what needs to be done here."
For all the political conflicts, it is indisputable the Chernobyl disaster wreaked a horrific toll in Belarus.
More than a quarter of Belarus's territory was contaminated by the nuclear disaster and more than 460 villages had to be evacuated in its aftermath.
The damage from the Soviet-era nuclear accident is estimated at $235 billion (160 billion euros), according to Lukashenko's presidential office.
Since its independence in 1991 following the disintegration of the Soviet Union the country has invested more than $19 billion to decontaminate the polluted areas including farmland.
Lukashenko said that Belarus needed help from international organisations to overcome the disaster but, characteristically, said that on principle it was not going to ask for any assistance.
"If they were half decent they would know this tragedy and they would have helped us," he said.
Lukashenko claimed that Western organisations were instead paying a "fifth column" -- his favoured term for the opposition in Belarus, many of whose leaders are still languishing in jail after the election.
"The fifth column do not want our rebirth but our death. But it's not going to come to that."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes
Russia, Ukraine leaders mourn Chernobyl nightmare
Chernobyl, Ukraine (AFP) April 26, 2011
The Russian and Ukrainian leaders marked 25 years since the world's worst nuclear disaster Tuesday on a historic visit to Chernobyl, shadowed by new fears over atomic energy safety. Dmitry Medvedev, making the first ever visit by a Russian president to the now defunct Chernobyl Atomic Power Station, and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych paid tribute to the victims of the April 1986 ... read more
In tsunami-hit Japan, a mother finally finds closure|
Japan imperial couple visit tsunami zone
Belarus leader fumes over Chernobyl anniversary
Higher radioactivity level at Bulgarian plant: operators
Chernobyl's radioactivity reduced the populations of birds of orange plumage
Lake life around Chernobyl said thriving
Researchers Discover Optical Secrets of Metallic Beetles
Sony challenges iPad in tablet war
VIMS study shows propeller turbulence may affect marine food webs
Japan mulls safety certificate for seafood: report
Turkey to build water channel to bypass Bosphorus: PM
Conservation of coastal dunes is threatened by poorly designed infrastructure
Calling all candidates for Concordia
Melting ice on Arctic islands a major player in sea level rise
ESA-NASA Collaboration Furthers Sea-Ice Research
Melting ice on Arctic islands boosts sea levels: study
Rural development gets help from the sky
Stressed out crop impede higher agriculture yields
Rising food costs could fuel Asian poverty
Can biochar help suppress greenhouse gases
Forecasters predict multiple US hurricane landfalls
Ecuador on alert after volcano erupts
Rain is Colombia's 'worst' natural disaster: Santos
'Right' to shut down air space over Iceland volcano: study
Nigeria holds final polls despite violence
Burkina Faso president assumes defence post
Work on Sudan split continues
Chinese aid good for Africa: ministers
Evolution of human 'super-brain' tied to development of bipedalism, tool-making
Berlusconi, Sarkozy meet over migrants
Pope urges 'solidarity' with refugees from conflict
Walker's World: Europe's frontiers close
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|