Staunton, June 5 –Dmitry Mezentsev, Putin’s new ambassador in Minsk, brings a very different and much more diplomatic tone to Russian relations with Belarus; but the real test of what he is about will be whether he suspends ties with the odious people his predecessor established links, according to an iSANS expert, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The expert at the International Strategic Action Network for Society, who helped draft a series of reports about Belarusian security Reform.by has been summarizing (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/04/isans-report-about-moscows-creeping.html), argues this is the only real test of Moscow’s intentions (reform.by/jekspert-isans-zahochet-li-mezencev-otstroitsja-ot-odioznyh-figur-i-iniciativ/).
Everything else, including Mezentsev’s own statements and discussions in the Moscow media, he says, is so much eyewash, an indication of what the Russian side would like people to believe rather than an indication of what Moscow is actually about now that it has changed ambassadors in Minsk.
In his days in office, Mezentsev has not moved to break the links between the embassy he heads and the most noxious pro-Moscow individuals or removed their statements from the embassy website (e.g., belarus.mid.ru/ru/press-centre/news/rezolyutsiya_khiii_respublikanskoy_konferentsii_belorusskikh_obshchestvennykh_obedineniy_rossiyskikh/).
Nor has Mezentsev sent any signal that he will suspend ties with individuals like the national-communist Sergey Baburin, the Western Rus communist Lev Krishtanovich or others of their ilk like Sergey Lush, Aleksey Kochetkov or Stanislav Byshok despite their propensity for causing headaches for the Russian embassy in the Belarusian capital, the expert says.
Indeed, the only sign that the new ambassador is prepared to rein in such people is that the group linked to the embassy intended to integrate Belarus into Russia now says that “we are the real guarantors of Belarusian sovereignty and protect it from Western encroachments” (teleskop-by.org/2019/05/31/uchastniki-rossijsko-belorusskogo-foruma-soyuznoe-gosudarstvo-garantiya-suvereniteta-belarusi/).
But that language, cheap as it is for Moscow to deploy, means less than nothing unless Mezentsev takes steps signaling that he is going to break with those who are working to promote the absorption of Belarus by Russia. There is as yet, no sign that he plans to do that, the iSANS expert concludes.