Saturday, June 12, 2021

Russia and Belarus May Not Unite but Their Regimes are Increasingly Alike, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 10 – “Before our eyes,” Vitaly Portnikov says, “is taking place a new historical drama, the Russian and Belarusian regimes are being transformed from authoritarian to totalitarian ones,” something that makes them increasingly alike and challenges the Moscow-promoted meme that Alyaksandr Lukashenka is “the last dictator in Europe.”

            This convergence reflects the fears both Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin have of their own people and their desire to rule forever without any input from the population, a situation which almost completely precludes reform and makes collapse and revolutionary change almost inevitable, the Ukrainian commentator says (

            To try to achieve their ends, both are driven toward “an inevitable metamorphosis, the transformation of authoritarianism into totalitarianism.” It is happening in both countries now, and that commonality matters because “authoritarianism as is well-known can be modified,” either in the direction of democracy or totalitarianism. But totalitarianism can only be destroyed.

            Unlike in totalitarianism, there is always room in authoritarian systems for other voices, even if they are marginalized and aren’t able to ensure evolution in a positive direction, Portnikov continues. “That is why,” he says, as was the case in Ukraine, “the main decisions during the collapse of authoritarian regimes were made in parliament and not in the streets.”

            But with totalitarianism and its total control of the parliaments and everything else, “with its pseudo-elections, pseudo-parliaments along with its lies disseminated on television, criminals in the law enforcement system, and thieves in business,” the only prospect is either more of the same or collapse.

            And that means that despite all the differences between Minsk and Moscow, the systems their rulers are putting in place will eventually disintegrate regardless of whether Lukashenka and Putin agree on the integration of their two countries or not.


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