Staunton, August 31 – Because popular anger in Belarus is increasing not decreasing and because Alyaksandr Lukashenka shows no signs of being open to talks with those opposed to him, protests in Belarus are likely to continue for some time; and they will likely become what they are now not, anti-Moscow if not openly anti-Russian, Andrey Kazakevich says.
The director of Minsk’s Political Sphere Institute says from the very beginning, “no one counted on a rapid-fire revolution.” Instead, observers talked about “a lengthy and drawn-out process.” On occasion, it appeared things had come to a head only to stop short (thinktanks.by/publication/2020/08/31/andrey-kazakevich-protesty-protiv-lukashenko-mogut-transformirovatsya-v-antirossiyskie.html).
What is going to happen is thus likely to be “a struggle” in which the participants will behave as they have. “People who did not agree with the results of the elections or with the policies of Lukashenka will continue their protest activity and put pressure on the authorities.” Those involved see what is going on as “a marathon” rather than a dash.
Lukashenka doesn’t want to talk with his opponents and will change his position “only under pressure” from the demonstrators, from economic problems, and from foreign actors. Russia is the most prominent of these, but its leaders have left them room for maneuver – including the possibility of coming in as a mediator.
The Kremlin is aware that uncritical and unwavering support for Lukashenka will infuriate Belarusians and produce what Moscow very much wants to avoid, widespread anti-Moscow attitudes among a population that has not been characterized by such views in the past, Kazakevich says.
But unless the Kremlin is very careful, the Belarusian analyst says, it will produce exactly the opposite outcome it wants. Belarusians aren’t likely to become Russophobes, but they are certain to view the Kremlin with more skepticism and hostility if it appears that Putin stays with Lukashenka too long and doesn’t listen to their complaints.