Europe is with the people of Belarus. And with whom is Russia?

Belarus protests: Lukashenko says Belarus and Russia could unite troops

Experts on the accusations of Minsk and Moscow against the West and the real policy of the European Union towards the Lukashenka regime

During a press conference following his two-day visit to Minsk, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western countries of interfering in the internal affairs of Belarus.

“We have noted numerous facts of gross interference by both the United States and those who follow in their wake, meaning individual European capitals, in the internal affairs of sovereign states. They continue to use the dirty methods of the so-called “color revolutions”, including manipulating public opinion, supporting openly anti-government forces, and promoting their radicalization, ”said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry..

Vladimir Makei, head of the foreign policy department of the Lukashenka regime, in turn noted that after August 9 Belarus found itself in a zone of “high political turbulence”, stressing: “Today we have to respond to both internal and external challenges, first of all. Moreover, the latter to a greater extent predetermine the former … We withstood the first onslaught and did not allow the Ukrainian scenario, the scenario of a color revolution, organized from the outside, to be realized in Belarus ”.

Then Makei thanked the Moscow guest for “a sustained, competent and clear reaction to the events that unfolded and are unfolding in Belarus.” And he added that “the balanced and extremely clear position of Russia acts as a counterweight that restrains external forces from overt interference in the internal affairs of the Republic of Belarus”.

Katya Glod: “Moscow is too worried that the situation could get out of control if it refused to support Lukashenka”

British analyst and expert at the Center for European Policy Analysis Katia Glod (CEPA) notes that the external side of Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Minsk provides little new information. Russia continues to support Alexander Lukashenko and insist on a constitutional reform that will create a more decentralized system of government in the country. The latter could allow the Kremlin to maintain its influence in Belarus, reduce dependence on Lukashenka and avoid a change of power as a result of protests and public pressure..

“We knew before that Russia was pushing for constitutional reform and decentralization of power, which many believe was agreed upon in Sochi in mid-September during a meeting between Putin and Lukashenko. And Lavrov repeated this at yesterday’s meeting, – says Katya Glod in a commentary to the Russian Service of the Voice of America. “For Russia, the decentralization of presidential powers will mean that it could invest, for example, in the creation of pro-Russian political parties, or in the fact that, in any case, not all power is in the hands of Lukashenka.”.

The expert adds that Russia is concerned that its reputation, in particular among the members of the Eurasian Economic Union, is being damaged, as it is considered unable to resolve the political crisis in Belarus. Moscow is also concerned that the expected economic sanctions against Belarus from the West may hit its interests and may want to get Minsk and a number of other concessions from Minsk in exchange for its support. However, the Kremlin’s fears that the power in Belarus may change as a result of protests and that the latter could spill over to Russia only strengthens Lukashenka’s position..

“If he [Lukashenka] is too stubborn, the Kremlin may, for example, stop publicly supporting him or start criticizing him in the media. But at the moment, I think, Moscow is too worried that the situation could get out of control if it refuses to support Lukashenka, ”the expert concludes..

Jörg Forbrig: The most important things were not publicly discussed

“The more important part [of the visit] is, of course, something we haven’t heard publicly about,” says Joerg Forbrig, German Marshall Fund, director of Central and Eastern Europe programs at the German Marshall Fund in a commentary to VOA. He adds that the end of the year is usually the time when Moscow and Minsk consider the level of support from Russia for Belarus for the next year, in particular the price of gas and oil supplies. In the current situation, discussing the Kremlin’s terms of its support was one of the key issues. – Lavrov, of course, discussed with Lukashenko that Russia wants to see a number of concessions in exchange for the support already provided and its continuation in the coming year. Now we can only assume what kind of concessions it might be, but we know that Russia wants to have a deeper level of integration between Russia and Belarus ”.

The expert does not rule out that Moscow has presented some kind of ultimatum to Lukashenko, that if he cannot take the situation in the country under control, the Kremlin will start thinking about “alternative scenarios”.
Jörg Forbrig also notes that if on the road from the airport the path of the Russian delegation ran through streets cleared by the Belarusian authorities of protest symbols, then Sergei Lavrov’s return road passed along a route not planned by the host side..

“Lavrov’s bypass route on the way back also became a message to Lukashenka that he might try to show that he was in control of the situation, but the Russian side does not really believe this,” the expert says. “This could also be Lavrov’s signal to the intelligence community in Russia that he does not trust their assessments and judgments about the situation in Belarus.”.

Alexander Feduta: The West is on the side of the citizens of Belarus

The Belarusian political observer Alexander Feduta, whom the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America asked to comment on the remarks of the ministers, drew a parallel with the officials of the Soviet Union, who were always looking for the so-called “internal enemies”, or “the fifth column” to blame their troubles.

“In this case, gentlemen, the foreign ministers of Russia and Belarus consider the people a crowd, and do not believe that he can them – so beautiful, intelligent, educated, wonderful, rich and so on, and so on – not to love and wish she went “far away” together with their owners. Well, who’s to blame for this? Those very “external bastards” who muddy the waters, do not allow them to live in peace, pay people $ 15 to enter the square with guaranteed exposing themselves to flash-noise grenades, rubber bullets and truncheons with a concussion. Of course, how can this happen without the “intrigues of the West”, well, what are you! “, – Alexander Feduta remarks sarcastically.

And he continues absolutely seriously: “The funniest thing in this tragic story is that all understanding people voice it. You cannot consider Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov and Vladimir Vladimirovich Makei to be complete idiots. Perhaps they are the smartest people in their respective governments. And the fact that they are circulating this vile nonsense – I am sincerely ashamed of them! “.

Andrius Kubilius: This is a big geopolitical mistake of the Kremlin

Member of the European Parliament, member of the European People’s Party faction, member of the international affairs committee, permanent rapporteur on Russia Andrius Kubilius expressed regret that the Russian government is not on the side of the citizens of Belarus, but supports the “toxic regime of Lukashenka”. “I think this is a big geopolitical mistake of the Kremlin,” said the MEP.

And he continued: “The West is on the side of the citizens of Belarus. And it was a surprise for us that the people of the country very vividly spoke out with the demand for changes, and this people managed to defeat the Lukashenka regime in the elections on August 9. Although, in the end, Lukashenka stole the results of these elections.

And the fact that people after 26 years of dictatorial regime took to the streets and said: “Enough!” – this is important not only for the Belarusians themselves, who stand for democracy, but it is also a signal to the Kremlin regime that people’s loyalty to such regimes that have been holding power for twenty or more years is coming to an end. And I think that what we are seeing now in Belarus can be repeated in Russia itself. Russian citizens also have the right to live in a democratic state, and I hope they will be able to achieve this, ”notes Andrius Kubilius.

Sergei Lagodinsky: The presence of the European Union could be more noticeable

Another MEP, a member of the Greens faction, Sergei Lagodinsky, believes that in fact the West pays too little attention to Belarus to be able to make claims to support the protesters. “It seems to me that the European Union should have started to play an active role in this situation in a timely manner. Of course, we are not talking about the fantasies of our colleagues in Minsk or Moscow, but about supporting the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people. One could even say that the European Union could more actively promote the idea of ​​a round table. After all, it is not necessary to immediately take some extreme position, but the presence of the European Union could be more noticeable. But this did not happen, partly because the democratic movement of Belarus itself did not want it. And people should understand that there are no “puppeteers” and “dolls” in this situation, because the people themselves asked not to get involved in the situation.

Therefore, all these words (Lavrov and Makei) are nothing other than fantasies, “- said Sergei Lagodinsky in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service” Voice of America “.

“Nobody wants to deal with a toxic businessman.”

Europe is with the people of Belarus. And with whom is Russia?

By the way, the day before the debates were held in the European Parliament, during which they discussed the continuing gross violations of human rights in Belarus, as well as the death of civil activist Roman Bondarenko. During these debates, about twenty MEPs spoke. It also became known that the European Parliament called to freeze the EU funds intended for the official Minsk until free and fair elections are held in Belarus..

Sergei Lagodinsky commented on the possibility of a third package of sanctions against people close to Alexander Lukashenko. “I think this is likely. There is a consensus in the European Parliament that a new package of sanctions is needed, “he said..

And he clarified: “Moreover, these sanctions should be aimed not only at ordinary politicians surrounded by Lukashenka, but also at the oligarchs. And even there are thoughts about some firms that are associated with the regime, or have something to do with repression. Moreover, as far as I understand, such a possibility is being considered not only in the European Parliament, but also in other institutions of the European Union “.

The politician also said that, most likely, in this case it is not about sectoral, but about point, or personal sanctions. “We don’t have many tools (impact). And therefore, the more the situation in Belarus worsens, the more carefully it becomes necessary to stir up the available tools. And this will apply, among other things, to the “head of the collective farm” himself, ”says Sergei Lagodinsky.

Andrius Kubilius noted that during the debates in the European Parliament, much was said, in his words, about “the atrocious crimes of the Lukashenka regime against peaceful protesters”. At the same time, the speakers strongly spoke out for the introduction of new sanctions of the third package. Moreover, these sanctions will be qualitatively different from the previous ones – they should be applied against enterprises – both public and private – that are close to the current regime. “All the participants in the debate also pointed out that the European Union should make decisions even more dynamically, including in the European Parliament, where we are discussing new initiatives, since the creation of a high-level special commission, which could include former presidents and prime ministers of the EU countries … And also the creation of an international center for the study of crimes (the current Belarusian regime). Or the creation of a representative office of democratic Belarus in Brussels, ”he said in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service.

The European parliamentarian also stressed that he himself spoke at these debates: “I said that what the Lukashenka regime does with its people, we must call internal terrorism against our people. And that the West, and in particular the European Union, should react to such crimes in the same way as to the actions of other terrorist states or organizations. That is, to apply tough and effective sanctions. And I said that sanctions should be directed not only against the regime itself, but also against those who support it and create conditions for its existence. I also said that the Kremlin should not be surprised if such sanctions are directed against it too, ”concluded Andrius Kubilius.

Alexander Feduta recalls that personal sanctions against representatives of the ruling elite of Belarus have already been introduced in the past. “Well, Lukashenka won’t be able to visit the Louvre for the second time, but he doesn’t really need it..

But in this case, there are very tangible things. As far as I understand, extended economic sanctions are being discussed with a targeted blow to Lukashenka’s business environment. And this is a rather serious thing, because last time some of those against whom such sanctions were imposed had to part with their business. As it happened, for example, with Vladimir Peftiyev, who sold shares in Beltechexport and Delovaya Seti LLC. Others simply could not recover from such a blow. After all, as soon as people come under sanctions, the sources of credit immediately shut down, because no one wants to deal with a “toxic” businessman who is closely watched by the European Union and the United States, ”the source of the Russian service“ Voice of America ”said..

At the end of his commentary, Feduta mentioned that representatives of the Belarusian political emigration insistently ask the West to disconnect Belarus from the SWIFT system. “And this is very serious,” the expert emphasizes. “Moreover, under the current conditions it has become clear that the number of repressions against its own people in Belarus is higher than in any European dictatorship for the same period, including Germany in the 1930s, which is so fond of the head of the Belarusian“ Tonton Macoutes ”Mr. Lukashenko. And the paralysis of the banking system is very, very painful! ”- summed up the Belarusian political observer.

  • Valeria Jegisman

    Voice of America journalist. Prior to that, she worked for international non-governmental organizations in Washington and London, in the Russian-language version of the Estonian daily newspaper “Postimees” and as a spokesman for the Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Interests – international relations, politics, economics

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Europe is with the people of Belarus. And with whom is Russia?

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