Thursday, January 3, 2019

Lukashenka Fears His Own People More than He Fears Moscow, Karbalevich Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 2 – Alyaksandr Lukashenka demonstrated in his vacuous New Year’s address that he believes that he is the only one on whom the independence of Belarus rests and that he “fears the activity of the population much more than he fears pressure from Moscow,” according to Belarusian political analyst Valery Karbalevich.

            The analyst says that it is his impression that negotiations between Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin on the future of Belarus have not gone as the Kremlin hoped. The two have not reached any significant agreement but rather remain divided on “the working group” the two have set up (

            “Russia is treating it as a working group on integration according to the treaty on the union state. But the Belarusian side is treating it as a group for the discussion of disputed questions in bilateral relations,” Karbalevich says.

            In this situation, the analyst continues, “Lukashenka is afraid to appeal to society since he considers that he is the only politician in the country” and therefore that the issue of the country’s future is his alone, one that the society should not interfere with.  But that is his view and not necessarily the view of those who will be profoundly affected by what he agrees to.

            Belsat also interviewed economist Leonid Fridkin on Lukashenka’s New Year’s address and its meaning. He suggested that the last year and the coming one represent lost opportunities, but he pointed to an issue that seldom gets much attention especially during the course of back and forth talks with Moscow.

            “The main problem today in Belarus,” Fridkin says, “is not what price the country will have to pay for oil but how rapidly will occur in Belarus the stratification of the population into the richest and the poorest.  This problem is much more serious than the oil maneuvers or the extinction of foreign debt.”

            “This is a domestic problem which is becoming a mind which is becoming ever more difficult to disarm.”

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