Belarus discredits Russian Jewish journalist for bias

MOSCOW — A Russian journalist says his Israeli citizenship may be connected to a decision by Belarus authorities to revoke his accreditation.

The Belarus Foreign Ministry last week canceled the accreditation of Alexander Stupnikov, a correspondent for a Russian television channel, for his "biased" reports from the Belarus capital of Minsk.

The decision apparently was part of the government's campaign against foreign television broadcasters.

In 1985, the Russian-born Stupnikov immigrated to the United States. A few years later he moved to Israel, where he acquired citizenship. He has been working for Russian television since 1991.

At a news conference last week, Belarus President Alexandr Lukashenko referred to Stupnikov as "an Israeli citizen who has been damaging relations between Belarus and Russia."

Stupnikov told a news conference in Moscow this week that exploitation of his Jewish background and Israeli citizenship was a "very handy" way for the Minsk government to fan a public campaign against him.

One Belarus Jewish activist said in a telephone interview from Minsk that he did not believe that the controversy over Stupnikov would cause any adverse consequences for the 100,000-member Jewish community of this former Soviet republic.

On Wednesday, Lukashenko signed an agreement with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow that could lead to a future union with Russia.

Lukashenko sought the treaty as a way of supporting his ailing economy and political standing.

It has been sharply criticized in Moscow because of Lukashenko's increasing authoritarianism and his curbing civil rights, including freedom of the press.