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Military hardware from Belarus in offing: report

Following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s trip to Belarus earlier this year, the country dubbed Europe’s last dictatorship is set to provide military equipment to Cambodia, according to media reports.

The premier set off on a trip to the East European country for an official three-day visit in April, during which he met with President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich, and witnessed the signing of a number of bilateral agreements.

On Tuesday, the Belarusian House of Representatives ratified these agreements, including one on “Military Technical Cooperation”, according to a report on state media site The Belarusian Telegraph Agency.

“The document on military and technical cooperation will promote the supplies of Belarusian military products to Cambodia,” the report says.

Officials at the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached yesterday to confirm the report. But rights activists said they were not surprised.

“The old saying that ‘birds of a similar feather flock together’ explains a lot” about the deal, Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said by email.

“The whole deal is completely dubious from a human rights perspective and should have never happened.”

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay had not heard about the accord, but believed the government was trying to better equip its military.

“When we have a problem with Thailand, the army is poorly equipped … [so] maybe the government was asking everyone, ‘Who can help?’” he said.

Chhay added that it was possible that a lot of the Kingdom’s military equipment comes “from communist countries and countries that have a high record of rights violations”.

“We have to look into this in detail,” he said.

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