How the Search for the “Russian Threat” Turned Out for Lukashenko


The President of Belarus became entangled in the traps of Luka’s Game

The current Belarusian presidential campaign from the very beginning was characterised by a noticeable anti-Russian component: firstly, at the level of statements made by top officials (mainly Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei, who was then almost quoted by Aleksandr Lukashenko), then a spectacle was played out with an alleged pro-Russian henchman Viktor Babariko, while court experts threw in “analytics” that claimed that the other main rivals of the current head of state are connected with Russia. And even Sergey Tikhanovsky, who now spends time behind bars, and his wife Svetlana is running for the presidency under the white-red-white banner, joining forces with the HQs of two other disgraced candidates – Babariko and Tsepkalo.

Only a person who is very far from the Belarusian reality could suspect something pro-Russian about this union, which is gathering rallies that are unprecedented for the country today. Tikhanovskaya openly opposed the participation of Belarus in the Union project with Russia and called for a return to the 1994 Constitution, negating everything that happened after – and the Union State of Russia and Belarus, and the state status of the Russian language, and numerous other agreements and arrangements with Russia that have been in effect for a quarter of a century.

Everything is very clear: who is going to take power in the country, removing Lukashenko, why this is being done, and who needs everything that is happening in Belarus now. Clearly not Moscow.

(A rally-concert in support of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Minsk on July 30th gathered, by various estimates, from 34,000 to 63,000 people)

However, Lukashenko’s entourage decided for some reason (it is not yet clear why) that the best way to win the presidential election convincingly is to outperform local nationalists in attacking Russia and, if necessary, “lead” the protest. It is well known that the core of this protest is made up of the very oppositionists who organised marches against integration with Russia and, as they thought at the time in Minsk, gave the authorities trump cards in negotiations with Moscow. Minsk wanted more preferences, and slogans like “No to integration!” seemed to the Belarusian side a good way to put pressure on allies.

Of course, the Belarusian authorities could not fail to understand that in the presidential election they will face the same anti-Russian crowd that will now take on Lukashenko. It is impossible to suspect the Belarusian elite of extreme naivety, believing that the “white-red-whites” suddenly recognise the President as “their own”. Although it may have been assumed that anti-Russian rhetoric would bring moderate nationalists closer to Lukashenko, and the main Lukashenko electorate would already vote for him.

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However, a few days before the election, it turned out that the technology of “intercepting the initiative” from the opposition, which seemed to promise Lukashenko success, “ate” the President himself. He came to the finish line with the prospect of entering the second round of the election and the threat of mass protests, when not hundreds or thousands, but tens of thousands of people take to the streets. In Ukraine in 2014, this was enough to declare a “million” protesters and stage a coup.

(Pastoral images of protests against Lukashenko)

In Belarus, from the very beginning of the campaign, the technology “Sasha has 3%” versus “I/We are the 97%” successfully worked, and the so-called solidarity actions from Poland to Miami demonstrated that the west has already decided who to consider the overwhelming majority of the Belarusian people – those tens of thousands waving white-red-white banners and chanting “We believe! We can! We will win!”. And even hastily conducted polls commissioned by the state-run Belarusian media, which just revealed to the world 72.3% for Lukashenko and less than 10% for the opposition, do not save the situation, because the public does not trust these numbers. Perhaps, at the start of the campaign, Lukashenko had such an approval rating, but someone advised him not to show it, and this “someone” was clearly aware of the “Sasha has 3%” scenario. And now just one rally-concert of the opposition in Minsk is evidence that 10% is enough to make the picture look like Kiev’s Maidan, and 72% seemed less than 3%. The laws of mathematics do not work in politics.

The attempt of Lukashenko’s entourage to “lead” the protest by defrauding Russia failed miserably: the oppositionists seemed ready for it and avoided explicit attacks on Russia. It seems that they were guided by the well-known advice of the mayor of Dnepropetrovsk: “We need to make the bastards any promises, make any concessions… Then hang them…” The oppositionists have put the “Russian issue” on hold “for later” (it is already decided by a return to the 1994 Constitution), and now they are only attacking Lukashenko as an opponent of fair elections.

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“Fair elections” is the main trap in the western colour revolution technologies, and the Belarusian President not only fell into it, but also got entangled in fishing nets, presenting himself to “western partners”, to the allies of the Eurasian Economic Union and the CSTO, not to mention Russia, and to his own voters in an unfavourable, to put it mildly, light. The west has seen a dictator who ruthlessly deals with political opponents and peaceful protesters (so far they are indeed, with rare exceptions, peaceful). The allies saw great oddities in Lukashenko’s statements and actions, but all this was long attributed to the costs of a difficult election process. The people in Belarus were generally stunned by the news: “white-red-whites” gently avoided the question of Crimea’s belonging, and the presidential army persistently sought “proof” of insidious Russian interference in the Belarusian elections

(Such a nice white-red-white opposition)

Lukashenko, fighting the spectre of the “Russian threat”, did not win anything. On the contrary, by the election day, he came up against a rival who significantly strengthened, “gained” significant support from the street (and not only in the capital), and became the ideal of Belarusian democracy for the western press. Three very pretty women, whose husbands and/or associates are languishing in captivity or forced to hide their children from Lukashenko, white shirts, red hearts… And this just knocks out a tear: “I don’t need power. I want children, a husband, and continue to fry my cutlets.” Well, everything, literally everything, as they like in the west: the gender issue is an edge (but Lukashenko believes that a woman will not be able to lead the country: “it will collapse, poor devil”), and the purity of thoughts (“fair elections”), and democratic aspirations (a referendum on the return to the Constitution of 1994). And what assets does Lukashenko have? The repression of the husbands and associates of these lovely ladies and the persistent search for “Russian influence”? Fighting the “free press”?

Lukashenko did not manage to knock out the white-red-white opposition’s anti-Russian trump cards from their hands, because the trump cards in this difficult game were completely different. And the traps set for Lukashenko worked: he fought with the alleged Russian henchman Babariko – and got a united opposition, and even with “poor devil” women at the head and large-scale mass protests.

Now the public, with open mouths, is watching the play “33 Russian Bogatyrs”, to whom the unthinkable is attributed: from destabilising the situation to preparing terrorist attacks and even, according to rumours from the Belarusian KGB, an attempt to assassinate the head of state. Yes, if you didn’t know, saboteurs and killers always go out on missions in packs, in camouflage uniforms, with badges saying “Our business is death”, they settle together in one place, attracting everyone’s attention with their military bearing, army discipline, and refusal of alcohol …

(Official media trumpeted Russian “militants” with all their might)

So who exactly from Lukashenko’s entourage planted this trap for him? We’ll get an answer soon. The funniest thing is that even in England the “Russian terrorists” narrative isn’t believed– they are still silent. The only one to fit in was Kiev, with which Minsk suddenly started to discuss the citizenship of the detainees and strengthen the borders (what if Russia attacks from Pskov and Nevel?). However, to be friends with Kiev against Moscow is far from being an adequate thing to do, because this friend/ally is cut from Mazepa’s cloth.

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The white-red-white opposition did not believe Lukashenko either, having seen behind the scenes of the play about “33 bogatyrs (according to legend, there are 200 of them, 167 more are aimlessly wandering around somewhere) the intention of the authorities to introduce a state of emergency in the country and cancel the election.

If Lukashenko’s plan is to avoid the threat of a change of power in the country by selling “Russian interference” to the west, then it is hopeless: the local fighters for democracy only need a complete set, including the presidential position.

The rejection of allied relations with Russia means only one thing for Lukashenko – the rapid and inevitable loss of power through the pressure of the street and the technology of “fair elections”, implemented in different countries to perfection. What about the country… The country, like Ukraine, will spiral out of control.

It remains to add that Russia has reacted very carefully to the strange actions of an ally: at an operational meeting with permanent members of the Security Council, which was held on July 31st by Russian President Vladimir Putin, “a detailed conversation took place about the incident with the detention of Russian citizens in Belarus. We hope that this situation will be clarified in the near future and the Russian citizens who were detained without grounds will be released.” The words without grounds are intended to put an end to this story.

Arina Tsukanova

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