Lukashenko: power at any cost

Belarus president, leader since 1994, says he has too much power

Belarusian experts believe that Alexander Lukashenko is again trying to maneuver between West and East in an attempt to maintain power

Against the background of the mass protests of the population that have been going on for six months over the falsification of the results of the presidential elections and the harsh repressions of the authorities against the opposition, the so-called “All-Belarusian People’s Assembly” was held in Minsk on February 11 and 12..

The sentiments of the initiator of this event, Alexander Lukashenko, whose legitimacy is not recognized in the West, can be judged by the Freudian reservations about the fate of the ousted dictators who, according to the Belarusian ruler, also wanted to “make their people happy” – Muammar Gaddafi, who was “crucified and put on stake “, as well as Saddam Hussein:” Do you remember how he was hanged? ”

The regional media drew attention to such sayings from the chaotic speech of Alexander Lukashenko, such as: “Belarus is not Russia”, “We will never live the way they live in Russia”, “My main condition for leaving power is that there is peace, order in the country, no protest actions “, and became a meme:” They don’t give their beloved “.

To which both Belarusian and Russian social networks responded with comments: “Unsuccessful imitation of Kuchma” (the second president of Ukraine wrote the book “Ukraine is not Russia”), “He changed his own aphorism“ the Belarusian people will live badly, but not for long ”,” Application for life-long reign “and” As it was said in the play “Dowry”: “So do not get you to anyone!” “.

Many commentators also noted that Lukashenko expects to receive another tranche of $ 3 billion from Russia, for which he intends to go to Sochi to meet with Vladimir Putin at the end of February..

The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” ​​asked for comments on the results of the meeting with independent Belarusian experts.

“The longer Lukashenka holds power, the softer the position of Europe will be”

Head of the Center for Political Analysis and Forecasting, Doctor of Political Science Pavel Usov believes that Lukashenko intends to continue his usual tactics of “hydrocarbons in exchange for promises” and not take any real steps towards integration within the framework of the so-called “Union State”. “In his speech, he stressed that any changes in the political situation in the country and a stake on his opponents would lead to a change in the geopolitical orientation of Belarus,” Pavel Usov said..

The expert also believes that in his speech at the VNS Lukashenka made it clear that he was not going to fulfill the promises he made to Vladimir Putin during the previous Sochi meeting. “This, in fact, was a response to Dmitry Medvedev that the Union State has a sufficient number of integration institutions, and their further development does not make sense. That is, according to Lukashenka, you just need to use the existing potential and not rush to further integration. It was not for nothing that he said that 30% of Belarusians are in favor of rapprochement with the European Union, that is, he made it clear that integration with Russia should take place on its terms, and not on those put forward by Moscow, “the interlocutor of the Voice of America comments..

Pavel Usov also notes that the event that took place against the background of massive repressions in the country did not become an event capable of influencing the domestic political situation. “It is obvious that Lukashenka feels confident and strives to show both the Belarusian population and the international community that he is in control of the situation. He believes that today there are no serious threats to his power within the country. The only thing that seemed to me was that he would try to break the deadlock in relations with Russia..

As for the actions of the opposition, in my opinion, it needs to develop a single consolidated strategy and create alternative governing institutions that will continue to undermine the internal system, ”said the head of the Center for Political Analysis and Forecasts. And he adds with regret that, to a large extent, the time for this has been lost. At least so far, Lukashenka has managed to prevent a split among the administrative apparatus and the leadership of the security forces..

“As for the position of the West, the longer Lukashenka will hold power and the more time has passed since the events of August 2020, the softer the position of Europe and the entire Western community towards Lukashenka will be. And accordingly, there will be less chances for tough measures and for a sanctions policy, which is already not effective enough. And in the end, everything will depend on whether Tikhanovskaya’s headquarters succeeds in maintaining unity … Because otherwise it will lead to the end of the confrontation with the regime, “sums up Pavel Usov.

“Lukashenka will annex segments of our sovereignty to Russia”

A different assessment of the situation by the co-chairman of the Belarusian National Congress, a politician and poet Vladimir Nyaklyaeu. He believes that Lukashenka’s entire speech at the so-called VNS was addressed exclusively to Vladimir Putin. In particular, a signal was sent about a possible change in the constitutional status of Belarus as a neutral state. “Earlier this was substantiated by Mr. Makei (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus – Ed.), Who said that in the modern world there can be no sovereignty. In reality, this means a military rapprochement between Russia and Belarus. And this means all other types of rapprochement – both economic and political, ”says Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu.

And he adds that, perhaps, the issue of introducing a single currency is being discussed behind the scenes. “And one more important thing: Lukashenka said that if not he or his protege comes to power, but someone from the opposition, then Belarusians will be forced to study the Belarusian language and Belarusian culture, understand the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and so on. By the way, he began with statements that the Belarusian language is poor, that we are the same Russians, only with a quality mark and that our native language is Russian. I once reacted negatively to this as chairman of the Writers’ Union.

And now this message of Lukashenka is very important for Putin, especially against the background of the fact that Ukrainization is gaining momentum in Ukraine and there is a desire to study its history and focus on the national worldview, ”said the co-chairman of the Belarusian National Congress.

In general, according to Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who said that “he has nothing but his country,” declared his intention to trade in what he has, namely, the sovereignty of Belarus..

“That is, it will add to Russia the segments of our sovereignty – military, economic, cultural and linguistic. And if he makes it to the thirty-fifth anniversary of his presidency, then irreversible consequences may ensue. And if earlier it was about democratic transformations, such as the redistribution of powers, now he says that there will be no parliamentary republics, the country must remain presidential, hence the words “I will not give up my beloved”. And it was said very vaguely about the constitutional reform – maybe a referendum will be held at the end of 2022, and then we will decide what to do next, “the source of the Voice of America believes..

And at the end of his commentary he notes that, in all likelihood, Alexander Lukashenko leaves for himself some room for maneuver so as not to completely depend on the Kremlin. “But I think that in the end he will face a dilemma: power or country,” concludes Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu.

“Continuation of the policy of economic support in exchange for geopolitical” kisses “”

Director of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies Arseny Sivitsky believes that Lukashenka’s speech at the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly was addressed not only to the Kremlin, but also to the “collective West”. According to the expert, Lukashenka and his inner circle, who have retained their power at the moment, are trying to return to their usual foreign policy balancing regime..

Lukashenko: power at any cost

“On the one hand, Alexander Lukashenko tried to make curtsey at the level of rhetoric towards Moscow. It can be noted here that he mentioned the commitment to allied relations with the Russian Federation and the abandonment of the desire for sovereignty. But at the same time, he stressed the need to maintain a multi-vector foreign policy. And this suggests that he is trying to send signals to the West in order to involve it in a dialogue, speculating on the Russian threat, “Sivitsky said in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service..

It is this consideration, according to the expert, that explains the words of Lukashenka himself, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei and Deputy Chief of the General Staff Pavel Muraveiko that Belarus has not matured to full-fledged sovereignty. “In fact, this is a signal to the Western capitals that if they continue the policy of sanctions pressure, this will lead to the loss of independence of Belarus and neutrality in foreign policy due to increased pressure from Russia,” said the director of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies.

In this context, according to Sivitsky, it is necessary to consider the leak of information that appeared on the eve of the VNS that Belarus can expect to receive another Russian loan in the amount of $ 3.5 billion..

“It really can be seen as a continuation of the policy of economic support in exchange for geopolitical ‘kisses’, and in today’s conditions there are doubts that the Kremlin will buy this trick again. But on the whole, it is obvious that Alexander Lukashenko needed the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly in order to use it as an argument not to fulfill the Sochi agreements with Vladimir Putin. And this event itself became a demonstration of Lukashenka’s confidence in his own positions and a broadcast of the “voice of the people” to which he appealed. And finally, Lukashenka shows that if some kind of transit of power in Belarus can take place, it will only take place in the medium term, and not immediately, as the Kremlin demands. And only on the terms of Lukashenka himself, and not on those imposed from outside, ”summed up Arseniy Sivitsky.

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