Belarus — Lukashenko at the Crossroads

  • Tichanovskaya is trying to create transitional council.
  • The Kremlin is playing the waiting game.
  • Poland continues to be engaged in the situation in Belarus.

Belarus has been in turmoil since the election on August 9th. At this point, it is for President Alexander Lukashenko to hold on to power or not. It largely depends on his action. There are certain external actors that are involved in the process. The reason for such diverse actors is based on Lukashenko playing multiple arenas.

Alexander Lukashenko is a Belarusian politician serving as President of Belarus since the office was created on 20 July 1994. Western opponents of Lukashenko have described Belarus as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship.’

One of the main external actors is Russia. It should be noted that Russia is part of the Union State agreement. Originally, Lukashenko tried to point to Russia as a force that allegedly opposed him.

This was due to the accusation of nominating alternative candidates (Babariko, Tsepkalo, support for Tikhanovskaya, etc.), and the actual nationalization of Bedgazprombank, and the arrest of Russian PMK fighters.

Russia, out of habit, did not show up for another war. Without indicating any position on the issue of the Belarusian elections, they provided no direct involvement either. Recognition of Lukashenko as elected was more of a routine format, and was determined by the principles of good-neighborliness.

This does not mean that the Kremlin does not have its own plan. Russia will intervene on its own accord and under favorable conditions for Russia. There are many similarities between Putin and Lukashenko, but the handling of the situations differs tremendously.

Furthermore, Ukraine and Lithuania can be amalgamated into one agenda. Both have significant political assets that can be used to fight the regime. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is a leader of the opposition, fled to Lithuania. She is the key player being used in creating the transitional Council (if Putin allows it).

In Kiev, the restaurateur Prokopiev, who became a “fiery revolutionary” and former candidate, Tsepkalo, were removed from the election earlier. However, neither group has any special leverage in Belarus itself, which does not mean that they are completely unable to participate in the process. The media hype is definitely there.

The 2020 Belarusian protests, nicknamed the Slipper Revolution and the Anti-Cockroach Revolution, are a series of ongoing political demonstrations against the regime of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. The demonstrations, part of the Belarusian democracy movement, started occurring in the lead-up to and during the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, in which Lukashenko sought a sixth term in office.

Moreover, Poland is a strong player. For a long time, through the institutions of the Catholic Church, the organization and support of the movement “Country for Life” (and the meetings of Tsikhanovsky with Polish diplomats long before the elections are now public knowledge), through people living in Poland and students there, an attempt was made to influence the Belarusian political agenda.

It should be noted that the majority of the channels of Polish influence were cut off by the KGB of Belarus and actually lost their active action. These include media resources, such as the Belsat TV channel or the NEXTA Internet channel.

It is now a waiting game. Russia has not made any significant movements. The transitional council is in the discussion stage. The protests continue. The Western media now is focusing on the dead protester and violence, including the alleged torture of the arrested. The protesters are marching to the city jail, where others protesters were detained en masse.

The situation will continue for now. The protests are going to continue this month. The world will continue to be engrossed into the Belarus crisis, and will focus on the human rights violations and the lack of freedom. At the same time, it can’t go on forever. A more stable scenario will likely unfold next month.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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