Is This Lukashenko’s Last Year? What Awaits Belarus with a Kremlin Backed Opposition Candidate?

  • The first round of the presidential Election will be held on August 9.
  • This is the first time Lukashenko is heading into an election without the Kremlin's support.
  • The opposition candidate is liked by the Kremlin and gaining support across the country.

This week Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the vote on the proposed Russian constitution amendments will take place on July 1. The amendments include the removal of term limits so Putin can remain in power until 2036 and beyond. On August 9 there will be a presidential election in Belarus; current president Alexander Lukashenko is running for a sixth term.

Serving since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Lukashenko continues to be the president for close to 30 years now. However, for the first time ever, it is highly unlikely he will actually win in the upcoming election. Lukashenko has been inconsistent with his dealings with Putin. Earlier this year Belarus was working on updating its coat of arms. Upon taking a closer look, one big noticeable change is that before the globe was facing Russia and the new design strictly faces the European Union.

Current President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.

There is a pro Kremlin candidate Victor Babariko running in the presidential election. Babariko is the head of Belgazprombank.

This is the first time Lukashenko is going to the polls without Russian support. Earlier, when Moscow was a reliable support, it was ready to give a loan before the election to stimulate the positive mood of voters. That is now exhausted and the reason for this was the inconsistent policies of Lukashenko.

The Kremlin is keen to deepen economic integration and develop the Union State. Putin would understand Lukashenko, if he simply said that he did not want to do anything in the context of the Union State. However, Lukashenko, true to his traditions, started trying to spin and bargain for an indulgence. Eventually, the Kremlin got tired of his bargaining and drooped its support.

Opposition candidate Viktor Babariko and the head of Belgazprombank.

Minsk has been plagued by protests to show support for Babariko in the upcoming elections. Due to the challenging situation in the US with protests nationwide, the situation in Belarus has not been televised as much. At present, the US has no other serious options in the Belarusian space. For too long they have been at some distance from Belarusian politics and have not been able to create a critical mass of political participation.

The EU does not have a candidate that they are backing or supporting. Especially, with the coronavirus pandemic this year, Eastern Block politics have not been given enough attention.

Overall, close to 50 presidential candidates have been nominated in Belarus, but only 15 of them were allowed to collect signatures for their run. The main opposition runner is Babariko. The stage has been set for him including interviews in the media, the opening of a gallery of Belarusian artists and other main events around the country.  Babariko is similar to Lukashenko in his younger days. A candidate needs 100,000 signatures in order to be allowed to run in the presidential election.

Protests in Minsk in the support of opposition.

The chances of Lukashenko winning the first round of the election process are 50/50. A consequent round would be more problematic.

The influence  factors:

1 ) To what extent the opposition will be able to control the elections (with Kremlin support they can be quite successful).

2) Will Lukashenko political supporters stay loyal?

Lukashenko is sounding more agitated and nervous. The Kremlin has the means and resources to provide additional support to the opposition.

There is information coming out of Belarus that many politicians are not ready to end their political career and will sign off in favor of Babariko.

This will be an interesting election year in Belarus. For the first time this century, Belarus will highly likely have a new president.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

Christina Kitova

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

Leave a Reply