Thursday, September 25, 2014

Window on Eurasia: West Won’t Challenge Lukashenka Regime Because It Wants Stability, Belarusian Analyst Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 25 – Western leaders may still refer to Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka as “the last dictator in Europe,” but in the wake of the events in Ukraine, they will not do anything to challenge him that might lead to instability in Belarus, according to a Mensk analyst just back from a visit to the United States.


            Pavel Usov, a Belarusian political scientist, told that after the events in Ukraine, “the stable autocracy in Belarus is becoming more acceptable” for Western leaders who thus do not want to do anything with regard to Lukashenka that might trigger further “unpredictable consequences” (


            As a result of the war in Ukraine, Usov said, “geopolitical interests are again becoming a priority reducing the attention given in the past to human rights, democracy and so on. In its conflict with Russia, the West and in particular the US will use any opportunity including cooperation and involvement in its policies of non-democratic regimes.”


            “In this case,” he suggested, “Belarus will hardly be an exception.”


            The West will approach Belarus on the basis of an assumption that in the current circumstances, Usov continued, “Lukashenka will become more flexible seeing the real threat from Russia.”  The economic forum and the visit of senior Belarusian officials to it show that “the West is ready for a new stage of relations with Belarus.”


            But the assumption on which this policy is based shows that the West “completely lacks an understanding of the real situation” in Mensk, he argued.  Lukashenka will not shift to the West as a result of such moves because he ultimately will not oppose Russian policies. He will “effectively play the role of a peacemaker, but he will remain a pro-Russian one.”


            Thus, what is likely is that in the wake of Ukraine, “neither the European Union nor the United Staes will insist on formal democratic advances in the republic.” Instead, the West will pursue a policy of cooperation like the ones it has with the governments of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

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