Staunton, July 29 – The integration of Belarusian government, military and economic institutions by Moscow in the latter’s pursuit of the deepening of ties between the two countries has attracted more attention, but humanitarian integration, Andrey Yeliseyev says, is far more dangerous and insidious because it “reduces to nothing all our national distinctiveness.”
The political scientist at the EAST-Center, says many, by focusing on what might be called “hard” integration Alyaksandr Lukashenka has resisted, are missing Moscow’s increasing efforts to promote the “soft” kind about which the Belarusian leader doesn’t appear to care (thinktanks.by/publication/2019/07/29/andrey-eliseev-gumanitarnaya-integratsiya-svedet-na-nol-vse-nashe-natsionalnoe.html).
Lukashenka, Yeliseyev says, isn’t prepared to make many concessions about political sovereignty but is prepared to allow Russians to make further inroads in the humanitarian sphere in order to get Moscow to provide oil, gas, and favorable loans. For him, the analyst says, “Belarussianness is of no value.”
But if the Belarusian language and Belarusian culture are marginalized or even destroyed, the political scientist says, the country will lose the basis for its independent existence in the future even if for the time being it can keep at least partial control of its economy and political institutions.
According to Yeliseyev, talk about “soft Belarusianization” is misplaced. “It hasn’t even begun” at least by the government. “The average Belarus hasn’t noted such phenomena as I am sure any poll would confirm.” Some private initiatives are taking place, but they act on their own in spite of the government rather than with its assistance.
In the key areas of the media and education, he continues, Minsk has been “a complete zero.” Indeed, it has even taken steps that make the situation with regard to the Belarusian language even worse, precisely what Moscow wants and far more dangerous in the long run than any concessions on the economy or even the military.