Staunton, August 16 – While one Russian in four thinks Alyaksandr Lukashenka falsified the results of the presidential vote there and only one in five thinks that the official reports are entirely trustworthy, only one Russian in 16 – six percent – thinks the demonstrations in Belarus are about to drive Lukashenka from power, according to a new VTsIOM poll.
And the overwhelming majority of Russians say that the protests in Belarus will not have any significant impact in Russia, a reflection of an underlying view among Russians that street protests however justified by official actions are unlikely to change anything, Olga Slabada of Svobodnaya pressa says in reporting the poll (svpressa.ru/politic/article/273440/).
Anna Ochkina, a sociologist at the Moscow Center for the Institute of Social Analysis, shares that view, although she goes on to say that nonetheless, many Russians will be talking about what is going on in Belarus for some time because of the importance of that country for the Russian Federation.
Aleksandr Perendzhiyev, a political scientist at Moscow’s Russian Economics University, says that another reason for Russian attitudes about what is going on in Belarus is that they “have seen what such protests and color revolutions can lead” and don’t want any repetitions.
“Many in Belarus want to turn to the West and to Europe,” Perendzhiyev continues. “But everyone understands that sharp movements do not end well either for the economy or the people. It is clear that Lukashenka is an authoritarian leader who has even a dose of totalitarianism, and I don’t intend to justify him.”
“But the situation has so evolved that if Lukashenka is removed from his post and the state descends into chaos, the people will only lose from that. If earlier people believed in color revolutions, now everyone understands that they will not lead to anything good” but instead install more thieving local elites and allow outsiders to control more of the economy.