Staunton, August 16 – Like Ukraine, Sergey Shiyenko says, Belarus is becoming “another ‘anti-Russia;’” and what is worse, that will be the case in the future “with or without Lukashenka.” Consequently, whatever many in Moscow think, just replacing the current Belarusian leader won’t be sufficient to change the situation.
The APN commentator says that most Russians think that the only problem in Belarus for Russia is Lukashenka and that if he changes course or is removed, the situation will correct itself. But that is not the case. Belarus has already changed too much for any quick fix of that kind (apn.ru/index.php?newsid=40170).
This should alarm ethnic Russians wherever they live because this trend is taking place not only in Ukraine and Belarus but also in Kazakhstan and “practically everywhere” on the post-Soviet space, the specialist on Belarus says; and it has no reached the point that unless there is a radical intervention by Moscow, Russia will be surrounded by anti-Russian projects.
The Belarusian revival, what Belarusians call belaruskae adradzhenne, is somewhat different from similar actions elsewhere, Shiyenko says. It has taken place slowly, without much public comment, and often is carried out by the authorities without any clear approval from below. Minsk officials want to ensure that a separate nation exist to ensure they’ll have jobs.
Many in Moscow call what is happening “soft Belarusianization,” in contrast to the more intense forms it took a century ago under the Bolsheviks or those which some in the opposition are urging. But it is no joke. Not only is it disordering and even destroying the Russian community in Belarus but it has now taken on a life of its own regardless of what Minsk does.
He documents eight cases which he says shows how the Belarusian authorities are moving against Russians and the Russian language. Only a few of these have attracted widespread attention and that is the point. Minsk wants to achieve its goals of building up the nation and state without the risk that Moscow will do anything.
According to Shiyenko, “these political repressions have demoralized and weakened the Russian movement in Belarus, a movement which was in any case never distinguished by good organization or sufficient resources to defend its lawful rights and the interests of the popular majority” in that country.
But the real worry is this, he says. “Russophobic ‘Belarusianization’ will be continued even after Lukashenka.” It will take one of two forms. Either it will continue as now and lead to a situation like the ones in Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan; or it will assume a more radical form like the one in Ukraine.
Neither is in Russia’s interest, neither is something Moscow can prevent entirely; but clearly the second is more disturbing than the first. And Russia needs to take steps to ensure that Minsk won’t follow Kyiv and make that country a second “anti-Russia.”