Staunton, July 27 – Many people driven from their homelands by political change have formed governments in exile, typically small groups that seek only to attract attention to themselves and to be ready to return to their countries and assume power should conditions allow.
From one point of view, that is precisely what the Belarusian opposition to Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s dictatorship has done, Vsevolod Shimov of Moscow’s Institute of Europe says. But it has gone further, he suggests, and moved to create “a parallel state” in emigration (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/20230726-parallelnoe-gosudarstvo-kakie-gruppirovki-formiruyut-belorusskuyu-oppozitsiyu-/).
In a new article, he provides a guide to this complex web of institutions, all of which have been declared extremist by the Lukashenka regime and only some of which cooperate with each other on a regular and unqualified basis. While Shimov is dismissive, the picture he paints is of a large and impressive network of émigré activists.
Among the institutions which form this “parallel state” are the following, each of which he describes in more detail:
· The Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whom Lukashenka illegally deprive of her victory in the last presidential elections. It is based in Vilnius and works primarily to secure her contacts with foreign governments and media. Among its most important staffers is Francisak Viacorka.
· The Unified Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, subordinate to Tsikhanouskaya and also located in Lithuania, includes officials who develop policies in a wide range of government responsibilities in anticipation of returning to Mensk.
· The Popular Anti-Crisis Administration, led by former Lukashenka diplomat Pavel Latushko and based in Poland, is sometimes at odds with the Vilnius groups but increasingly works with them.
· The Coordination Council of the Belarusian Opposition, which included both emigres and intellectuals at home, forms a brain trust for this parallel regime.
· The BYSOL Solidarity Foundation which gathers funds to support victims of Lukashenka’s repressions.
· BYPOL, a group of Belarusian siloviki opposed to Lukashenka.
· The Kastuś Kalinoŭski Regiment consists of Belarusians who have gone to fight on the side of Ukraine against the Russian invasion forces.