Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

State Duma condemns Minsk anti-Russian rhetoric

Russia's State Duma (lower parliamentary house) on Wednesday adopted a statement to condemn Minsk's "anti-Russian rhetoric" and reaffirm Russia's intention to expand relations with Belarus.

The statement said that the Belarusian leadership's public criticism of Moscow caused "bewilderment and utter rejection" in Russia and ran counter to the "spirit of the centuries-long cultural and economic ties" between the two countries.

The lower parliamentary house backed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's stance on the matter.

The statement warned that both countries were responsible for the development of integration within the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

"Russia has been a firm advocate of the establishment of the Union State [of Belarus and Russia]," the statement said. "Short-term political interests, which have prevailed during Belarus' election campaign, should not undermine ally, strategic relations between our countries, drive a wedge into the close union of the two brotherly nations."

The statement had been proposed by Aleksei Ostrovsky, head of the parliamentary chamber's CIS Affairs Committee.

He linked Mr. Lukashenka's severe criticism of the Kremlin to "attempts by certain forces in the West, which continue trying unceasingly to destroy the integration processes existing on the ex-Soviet territory in general and between our states."
Mr. Ostrovsky suggested that Russian fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky was involved in masterminding the campaign.