Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Lukashenka Seeks to Have It Both Ways: Talks of Union State in Moscow, Belarusian Independence in Minsk

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 2 – Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka appears to be trying to have it both ways: When he was in Moscow, he spoke of the union state with Russia as an accomplished fact (, but when in Minsk, he didn’t mention it (

            Instead, he spoke as a national leader in his New Year’s address and said that Belarusians “must strengthen their statehood on the principles of honor and justice and thus preserve the country for our children and grandchildren” (

            Telling an audience what a speaker thinks they want to hear is normal; telling two different audiences very different things even though he can be sure that they will compare the two sets of remarks is dangerous: neither is going to trust him at all.  That is the trap Lukashenka has fallen in.

            Vladimir Putin and his regime will certainly view this as another act of deception and betrayal by Lukashenka; and Belarusians, already with good reason not to trust the dictator, will see this as another reason they shouldn’t, thus further weakening his regime and making it more likely that it will collapse in the event of any Russian move. 

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