Beyond current protests in Belarus

Dr. Amr Mohammed Eldeeb
Latest posts by Dr. Amr Mohammed Eldeeb (see all)

Translated by Shaimaa Behery

We can only analysewhat is happening in Belarus currently, incase we understand how Russia views the events taking place there.And before we review the official and intellectual situation of Moscow towards what is going on in Minsk, we must  begin with a significant fact, in reference to the size of the protests among Belarusian community and national and international reactions, what is happening on theBelarusian lands can’t be described as revolution, neither coloured nor uncoloured.

Undoubtedly, there are real protests in Belarusand these protests began after the announcement of the presidential election results which uncovered the victory of Alexander Lukashenko with about 80% of the votes. Yet, these protests have not yet reached the level of a comprehensive mass revolution in terms of numbers and demands.

The demands are now clear, namely run -off of the presidential elections, the results of which were not recognized by the weak Belarusian opposition and the countries of the European Union.The factor that made the world media focus on current events is the location of Belarus and its presence in the geographical area of ​​the colour revolutions and the Western-Russian conflict.

The official Russiansituation so far is dominated by a feeling of waiting and anticipation, we have not yet heard a single word from the Russian administration clearly supporting Lukashenko. Only the Kremlin leadership congratulated Lukashenko’s victory, and after the development of the situation and the entry of European countries under pressure from the Baltic Sea countries on the line of crisis, Moscow underlined that it wasagainst allowing interference in Belarus’ internal affairs, whether from its side or the European one.

There is constant contact between the Russian and Belarusian leadership, but until now Russia cannot dictate any decisions to Lukashenko, only matters revolving around advice and the need for restraint.

At the level of the expert community in Russia, they are divided into two groups regarding the events in Belarus: the first and the most widespreadsays that what is going on in Belarus represents a continuation of the series of colour revolutions and that the goal is to distance Belarus from Russian influence.

The most important advocates of this trend – the thinker Alexander Prokhanov and Sergey Glaziev, advisor to the Russian President on Eurasian integration affairs.

Not to allow the loss of the strategic ally

This trend believes that Russia cannot lose Belarus under any pretext, as it is a strategic ally, and that the leaders of the Russian armed forces cannot reconcile with the loss of the military bases, where in one of them there are strategic missiles directed at Europe while other powerful electronic systems provide wireless communications with Russian submarines in the oceans.

They believe that only Lukashenko will save Russia from these bases and if the opposition manages to topple Lukashenko, Russia will be in front of the premise of liquidating these bases or handing them over to Russia’s strategic rivals. Russian generals will never accept the loss of these bases as it will mean a sharp decrease in Russia’s defensive power, so they support Lukashenko and stable Belarus unconditionally.

George Soros Brigades

Alexander Dugin, founder of the fourth theory and theorist of the idea of ​​the Eurasian Union, is also considered one of the members of this trend. He believes that the George Soros Brigades are undoubtedly behind what is happening in Belarus and even behind what is happening inside the United States – against the “dictator” Trump, there are always people dissatisfied for whatever reason, but the disaffected who are trying to change have serious sponsors only at certain political and geopolitical moments. In Belarus, there are mass protests supported by secularists not just from the United States, but specifically secularization, the same ones who are now dropping Trump in the US.

Regardless of whether Lukashenko is bad or good, this is a colourful revolution in favour of a painful and unipolar world, and here lies the crystal-clear evil behind the rebels againstLukashenko.They aren’t just normal people but they are the image of a postmodern society.

The longevity of Putin’s rule 

There is another trend in the Russian expert communityadopts the idea of ​​the independence of the Belarusian protests and their non-dependence on the West. They also believe that what is happening in Belarus is an extension of what is going on inside Russia in reference to the issue of the long reign of President Putin’sthat has reached to twenty years while Alexander Lukashenko’s term in office  has reached 26 years. This trend is representedby most of the liberal experts, headed by Mikhail Deliagin.

In general, we do not stand with any ideological trend within the Russian expert community, as there are several data that can form for us a certain picture of what is really happening in Belarus.

External data

1- The West does not have a single stanceregarding the situation in Belarus, and the United States is officially far from what is happening for many reasons. The partnership amongRussia’s Putin, France’s Macron and Germany’s Merkel ensures that there is no desiredriving the European Union to get rid of Lukashenko or to create chaos inside Belarus.

2- Polandis the one who wishes the leadership of the European Union in Eastern Europe to constantly increase its hostility to Russia, as it is interested in separating Belarus from Russia and weakening and strangling Russia in the Black Sea – the Baltic Sea.There is also Ukraine who is at war with Russia, is interested in tearing Belarus and Russia apart, and is looking forward to Russia’s denial of its strategic ally.

3- Belarus as a state and government in the last two years had no problems with the United States and with the European Union. On the contrary, all Belarusian steps recently have poured in the interest of Washington and in the interest of European capitals. Actually, Lukashenko’s regime has obstructed the roadmap of the Union Stateand he was the one who started relying on  the US oil, away from the background of escalating differences between Russia and Belarus over oil and gas prices and the mechanism of achieving integration between both countries. Lukashenko’s regime has also good relations with the ruling regime in Ukraine.

* The State of the Union, also referred to as the Federal State of Russia and Belarus, is a supranational federation consisting of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. The first agreement of this union was signed in 1996.

4- Moscow is not satisfied with Lukashenko’s hesitation towards the Crimea, Ukraine and many other areas because he wasn’t so well with Moscow due to direct pressure and imposition of instructions for doing business with Minsk.

5- There may indeed be a factor of preparation done by the global elite to influence the events in Belarus, but these preparations, if any, do not play the final role in changing the head of power, rather, they must be followed by the clear situations from the major capitals in the world and the stances of the security and military institutions within the state.

Internal data

6- The mass protests showed that Lukashenko’s 80% success rate in the elections was not accepted by the populace as a fact. Today, expecting a real  a percentage is impossible, but there is a reasonable justification to believe that if a result of 56% was shown to Lukashenko and 40% to Tikhanovskaya, there wouldn’t be such intense emotions in the Belarusian community.

7- The 26-year-old existence in power undoubtedly creates a state of boredom, especially among young people and students, so, announcing the result at 80% triggered their anger. Then, the inappropriate use of force by the riot police, not only against the crowd instigators, but against all participants in the protests as welleven strangers created a strong spirit of protest crystallized in the slogan “Leave.”

8- The biggest protest was on 16 of August when at least 100,000 persons rallied in Minsk. (According to some estimates – up to 200,000 people)  Protests took place all over Belarus not only in regional centresbutin small towns as well (the total number of demonstrators on this day across the country was at least 300,000). Actually, pro-government marches provoked “anti-government” marches on that day, with no more than 10,000 people, which means that number of protests hasn’t yet reached to the limit that may be resulted in loss of control. It was reported that number of trained protesters able to use Molotov cocktails was small and that almost all of them were arrested on10th and 11th of August. Few number of trained mobilization  leaders were arrested the same days.

9- Number of pro-Western opposition members about whom Lukashenko spokewas small. It was without prominent leaders,however, it was the one that officially replaced the leaders of the protest who began to form the protest through Lithuanian and Polish support using the white and red flags that represented the national movement.

Indeed, formation of the Coordination Council marked the culminationof opposition, which included anti-Russia and Western liberals. Meanwhile, emergence of the Belarus Reform  program,an anti-Russian program aimed at the withdrawal of Belarus from the State Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), to join the European Union and NATO and to ban the North Atlantic and Russian Languages and Russian Media etc also marked another peak.

From this point we can say that there is an attempt from the side of Poland and Lithuania to influence the internal events and stir the protests.

10- Poland and Lithuania are at the head of the Western conspiracy against Belarus. Poland has made hostile statements about Belarus and hasn’t ruled out the entry of troops into the western regions to which they previously belonged, under the pretext of protecting the Poles who live there.

Understanding that the United States is in the back of it, Lukashenko is forced to contact Putin constantly. He publicly said that Russia , in case of any external threat, will support Belarus as a member of the CSTO.

Given theseaforementioned facts, we can say that there are no plans on the part of the United States or the major European countries to make a colour revolution against the Belarusian political system, which recentlyhas maintained good relations with Washington and European capitals. Obviously, westerners aren’t currently targeting leading chaos in Belarus.

Probably, George Soros teams recently tried through the countries of Poland and Lithuania  to inflame the situation, however, the reason for these protests is not George Soros and thesecularists, but Lukashenko’s decisions and his declaration of his success by 80% of votes. If he had announced that he had succeeded with 52%, all what happened wouldn’t have been.

How does the Kremlin view the events in Belarus?

The official Russian situation, as mentioned above, is characterized by anticipation and waiting. The Kremlin believes that the protesters do not come out with anti-Russian or pro-Western slogans, thus, such kind of protests Moscow can deal with through patience and anticipation. Actually, Russia could deal with same types of protests in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Moreover, Belarusian people are friendly and there is no clear hatred from Belarusian people to the Russian.

However, there are calls from Russian expert community ( who believe there is coloured revolution) for Russian intervention (similar to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the Russian military intervention in Syria), and Alexander Lukashenko himself supports this scenario in case things get out of control.

But what are the real reasons that may push Russia for intervention? To not allow Belarus to leave and join the European Union? In fact, the Belarusian opposition does not clearly support this, and if this trend appears later, it will not be accepted by the Belarusian people.

For Belarus, leaving the economic and monetary union and closing access to the Russian market means complete immobilization for the entire economy due to the following reasons:

– Russia is the main creditor of Belarus. According to the Ministry of Finance of Belarus, Russian loans represent about 48% of the republic’s external public debt (as of the end of the first quarter of 2020) which means sum of $ 7.92 billion.

According to the National Statistical Portal of the Republic of Belarus (Belstat) and the local Ministry of Finance, in 2019, the country received $ 2.87 billion in direct investment from Russia, nearly 40% of the total ($ 7.2 billion).

In foreign trade between Belarus and the world, Russia’s share is about 48%, and the republic depends on Russia for 56% of imports. In 2019, Russian goods estimated with $ 20.8 billion were delivered to Belarus, and $ 13.1 billion represented in products were imported from Belarus.

Russia traditionally provides Belarus with energy resources at a reduced price, and thus supports the Belarusian economy, in addition to loans and direct investments. During the period from 2000 to 2015, the hidden support due to affordable energy supplies amounted to $ 100 billion.

In conclusion, the Russian leadership generally considers Belarus as their “king” geopolitically, and the hypothesis that Belarus will leave the Russian sphere of influence is still remote, for the reasons mentioned above.

Only Moscow will seek to formalize Russia’s political influence over Belarus by merging the two countries through the “Union State” project, which means not having to rely on who might be responsible in Minsk. The real challenge lies in if Moscow can’t do that without Lukashenko, or at least while Lukashenko remains powerful.

So the best scenario for the Kremlin would be to conduct a joint “operation” with Lukashenko, to secure the continuity of the policy and transfer power to someone who could guarantee the interests of the outgoing president and ensure the preservation of a pro-Russian path. Hence, the time factor here will be the real judge in the success of this scenario.

 

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