Russia's plans to deploy air regiment in Belarus have brought about a lot of criticism from the opposition.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday that it had been planned to deploy a Russian air regiment in the republic in 2015, and the first flight of fighter jets was due to go on duty already this year.
"We started to consider the deployment of a Russian airbase with fighter jets and hope to station an air regiment there in 2015. We will open an air commandant's office and bring the first duty flight of fighters in 2013," the Russian defense minister said.
The Belarusian opposition feels negative towards this stance.
"The deployment of Russian forces on Belarusian territory is inconsistent with the constitution, which defines the status of Belarus as a neutral state. The price paid by Russia for the deployment of its base is unknown but, obviously, independence of the Republic of Belarus may be the price of the anti-national decisions of the incumbent authorities," cochairman of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party Vitaly Rymashevsky said.
His statement was published on the organization's website.
Movement for Freedom Chairman Alyaksandr Milinkevich said Belarus must preserve the status of a neutral state as stipulated by the constitution.
"We absolutely do not need military blocs, especially now. But that is the price we pay for the gifts, cheap oil and gas. There are no free gifts in such relations," the public movement leader told reporters. "Alas, the country is losing its sovereignty: Both economic when it sells its economy to one country and political when it takes such steps."
"Russian fighters stationed on our land are a threat to every Belarusian," says an address of the Belarusian Popular Front leaders.
"The deployment of Russian military bases in Belarus not only contradicts national interests and the constitution of the Republic of Belarus as a neutral state, but also jeopardizes the security of every Belarusian," party chairman Alaksej Janukevich said.
"Russia has switched to open moves that aim to transform Belarus into a buffer zone in the protection of its interests," he emphasized. "As it has happened many times in the past 200 years, the Kremlin wants to guarantee its peace and security at the expense of Belarusians' lives," Janukevich said.
"We will not let it go and we will protest in every available non-violent way against the deployment of Russian fighters on Belarusian land and their presence in Belarusian skies," the Belarusian Popular Front chairman said.
Tell the Truth civil campaign activist Sergei Voznyak said, "Russia needs that. Belarus does not quite need that from a military point of view."
"The country will get some lease money because the presence of foreign military bases brings some kopecks to the budget," he said. "[The base deployment] is not so much a military as it is a political question."
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