Staunton, August 28 – The protests in Belarus recall the Prague Spring in 1968 and Polish Solidarity in 1980 both in how they have transformed the consciousness of the people and in why they are likely to be followed as the two earlier events were by some years of an even more repressive regime, Dimitry Savvin says.
The editor of the Riga-based conservative Russian Harbin portal says one can only admire what the Belarusian people and the new opposition there have done because it is a necessary step toward a genuine nation state; but at the same time, Belarusians are going to have to wait “a long time” before victory is theirs (harbin.lv/na-razvilkakh-belorusskogo-tupika).
And because much of this repression is likely to be carried out or at a minimum blessed by Moscow, Savvin suggests, it is absolutely necessary that Russian nationalists like himself insist that “Putin and his regime are not Russia and not Russians” and that in fact the Kremlin is “most evil enemy of both the Russians and Belarusians” who must form a united front against it.
In the short term, as after Prague and Gdansk, the nationalist commentator says, Moscow is likely to be “the main beneficiary” of what is happening in Belarus because “it is impossible to deny that there are no realistic scenarios for the victory of a democratic revolution in Belarus today.”
There are six things that lead to the three most probable scenarios in the coming weeks, months and years. The six limiting factors include:
· There is no serious split in Lukashenka’s ruling circle.
· “Lukashenka is not simply an authoritarian leader; he is the creator of a unique neo-Soviet regime” and the people who are part of that regime have nowhere to go. “Removing Lukashenka is comparatively easy but destroying the structures which form the basis of his regime is significantly more complicated.”
· The Belarusian opposition lacks “serious political experience” and isn’t capable of immediately replacing the Lukashenka regime even if it can force him out.
· The Belarusian economy is dependent on Russia, and Moscow will insist Minsk pay the price for that.
· Moscow has powerful levers inside Belarus and could replace Lukashenka by force if it wants to.
· The European Union is very much afraid of the emergence of a new center of tensions on its borders and will not provide the Belarusian opposition with more support that declarations and ineffective sanctions.
These six factors make the following three scenarios the most likely, Savvin suggests:
· Lukashenka finally is forced to give up power, but Moscow takes ever greater control over Belarus and transforms it either into a vassal or part of the Russian Federation.
· Lukashenka departs, the democrats win an election and try to establish links with the EU and the US, but Moscow uses its economic leverage and ties within the Belarusian security services to undermine that drive.
· Or “the situation passes out of control, and the Russian Federation, ‘at the request of the legitimate government, introduces ‘a limited contingent’ into Belarus.” That would be easy to do but would entail serious costs, and the Kremlin would do it only in extremis.