Staunton, August 11 – Vladimir Putin hates Alyaksandr Lukashenka but views him like the governor of a Russian province and is in a position, as a result of Lukashenka’s own failed policies, to use Belarus any way he wants, including as a place des armes to attack Ukraine, according to Stanislav Shushkevich.
In a wide-ranging interview with Kyiv’s Gordon news agency, Shushkevich, the former head of the Belarusian parliament and now an outspoken critic of Lukashenka and his regime, says “Russia doesn’t need to attack Belarus: the Kremlin does [there] whatever it wants” (gordonua.com/news/politics/Eks-glava-belorusskogo-parlamenta-SHushkevich-Lukashenko-gubernator-rossiyskoy-provincii-Belarus-CHto-emu-Putin-skazhet-to-i-sdelaet-92958.html).
Despite his bombastic language, Lukashenka will not do anything because he cannot, Shushkevich continues. “If one speaks seriously about Lukashenka’s possibilities, then he in fact is the governor of the Russian province of Belarus …What Russia tells him to do, he will in fact carry out.”
Putin, of course, the Belarusian opposition figure says, behaves “like a mafia boss, not a chief of state. [His] aggression against Ukraine is a desire to assert himself given that he has failed to improve the Russian economy.”
While Lukashenka will always do Putin’s bidding, Shushkevich continues, it is important to recognize that “Putin pathologically hates Lukashenka. One can condemn the Russian leader for a lot, but it is obvious that he is a literate man. But Lukashenka is a nothing.” All comments by the latter show is pathetic “lack of education.”
As a result, “Putin cannot respect him in principle as he is required to respect Aliyev, Nazarbayev or Karimov. These are also dictators, but they have a definite level of education and experience. But Lukashenka has nothing of the kind.” “I would die of shame,” Shuskevich says, if I spoke in as illiterate a fashion as Lukashenka does.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have no influence on the Belarusian elections because in Belarus, there are no elections; there is simply a game where all the results have been decided in advance and where how people vote has not consequence as far as the outcome is concerned, Shushkevich continues.
Moreover, he says, Russian propaganda is very effective in Belarus and “many Belarusians believe what Russian television says and think that in Ukraine ‘banderites’ and ‘fascists’ are running the show.” All normal means of opposing this obscurantism have been declared illegal in Belarus.
The situation in Belarus is far from ideal, Shushkevich says, but he notes that an aspect of the Belarusian national character that has helped the nation survive also has gotten in the way of moving to make change. Belarusians, he says, have throughout their history figured out how to survive in the most difficult situations.
But that very strategy of survival, he continues, has led them in many cases to adapt, to figure out how to survive a particular regime rather than to struggle against it. “Belarusians do not believe in something better … [and] when we say the word ‘opposition figure,’ we have in mind someone who disagrees with the political regime.”
“All normal means of opposing political obscurantism have been declared illegal.” Those who try to oppose the system land in jail, and that is why there are “so many political prisoners” in Belarus. Lukashenka is ready at all times to show that he can and will put anyone behind bars that he wants do.
In that situation, most Belarusians simply are trying to survive. Those who do think more broadly support Ukraine and are proud of what the Ukrainians are doing. “Ukrainians are in a very worthy fashion opposing Russian or more precisely Kremlin horrors and are continuing the struggle with them.:
“Such an example is infectious,” Shushkevich says, “but not for Belarusians.” For them opposing the regime is “very dangerous.” As a result, “fear rules” in Belarus.