Friday, December 21, 2018

Having Undermined Belarusian Sovereignty, Lukashenka Casts Himself as Its Defender, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 20 – Both Moscow and Minsk benefit from talk about Russia’s plan to annex Belarus, Moscow because it creates the illusion that Vladimir Putin’s much-ballyhooed Russian world is still on the march and Minsk because it creates another illusion that only Alyaksandr Lukashenka is capable of keeping the country separate, Vitaly Portnikov says.

            Again and again, the Ukrainian analyst says, whenever Moscow seeks concessions from Minsk in exchange for aid, Lukashenka begins to talk about the need to defend the sovereignty of Belarus.  But his “defense” of his country with each passing year looks ever more “unconvincing” (

            That is because “Lukashenka always has played against sovereignty,” given that the “history of his rule is the sad history of how an ignorant Soviet-style dictator for decades has destroyed the statehood of  his own country” and put “his unhappy people” in ever more desperate straits.

            “When Lukashenka came to power, his country had all the attributes of classical post-Soviet statehood,” Portnikov says. “Lukashenka deprived Belarus of all that he could – its coat of arms, its flag, its hymn, its native language and its parliamentary system.  Even the country’s independence day was sacrificed,” replaced with the day of Minsk’s liberation from the Nazis.”

            There is no equivalent of such an attack on state sovereignty anywhere else in the entire former Soviet space, the Ukrainian analyst continues.

            Russian propagandists without any response from Lukashenka continue to use the Soviet imperial name for the republic, Belorussia, rather than its real name Belarus; and their line on Ukraine, the West and much else is echoed by Lukashenka more consistently than even most Russians do.

            His population is cowed by his security services and its brains washed by Russian television. The only thing that Lukashenka cares about is to ensure that all of them view him as necessary. Russia helps him do that by implying its about to annex Belarus. If Moscow stopped threatening the country, its irreplaceable leader would soon be replaced.

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