Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Lukashenka’s Mistake Will Guide Putin in 2024, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 17 – Had Alyaksandr Lukashenka not been so foolish to allow an independent candidate to run against him, he would not have suffered the humiliating loss that he has denied and that has sparked the rising tide of protests against him and his regime, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            But the Belarusian dictator assumed that he could control even this situation and that having a truly independent candidate he could defeat would help him gain support in the West and thus landed in his current predicament, the London-based Russian scholar continues (

            Pastukhov suggests this must have been his motivation because Moscow doesn’t care who is in office in Belarus as long as that individual is willing to cooperate with Putin more than with the Western powers.  But by acting as he has, Lukashenka finds himself having lost support in the east without picking up anything in the west.

            It is far too late for Lukashenka to correct his mistake, but what has happened does provide a powerful lesson for Putin. The Kremlin leader will now engage in any “experiments with candidates in 2024.” Instead, he will make sure that the only ones he will face will be “tested agents” who will play according to his script.

            The situation Lukashenka has landed himself in and that Putin will certainly seek to avoid in the future, Pastukhov continues, is “so classical that it even became one of the subject of the Les Rois maudits, a series of seven historical novels by the future French Academician, Maurice Druon.

            “Had Lukashenka read [any of these French novels] or even the Wikipedia summary, then possibly the Belarusian revolution would not have taken place this time.” He could have structured the election so that he would really have gotten more votes than his opponents, but that would have undercut his approach to the West even if it had no impact on Moscow.

            Focusing on his geopolitical concerns, Lukashenka fundamentally miscalculated about the nature of Belarus itself. He certainly believed that “in traditionalist Belarusian society, under conditions of the splits within the protesting elites where ever more they fight with each other rather than Lukashenka,” Tikhanovskaya wouldn’t have a chance.

            “But things turned out differently. Her weakness turned out to be her strength,” Pastukhov argues. “None of the fractious factions of the Belarusian opposition saw her as a real competitor over the long term and therefore the opposition easily and quickly united under this brand.”

            According to the Russian analyst, “Lukashenka himself threw into the saturated solution” that Belarus is today “the catalyst for a revolution. He did this on his own initiative and because of his own stupidity.  He gave the masses that very trigger without which no revolution could have taken place.”

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