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Belarusian Politics, View from our site.
Last modified: April 23, 2001

This is not an attempt to research the political situation in the country. It's more like a summery of personal perceptions of an individual trying to understand what is happening around and what might be expected in the future.
 
Generally, there are just two players in the game of politics in Belarus. They are Alexander Lukashenko, the President, with the so called Presidential vertical (it would have been more appropriate to call it pyramid) from the one hand, and the United Opposition with the Belarusian Popular Front in its core from the other hand. Well, it would be unfair not to mention 10 millions or so of disappointed and irritated spectators (victims) who are to watch (or to suffer?) the game.

The President

The highest positions held before are a Collective Farm Chairman and a Parliament's member. Not a fool. Fools do not win elections with just a handful of supporters and without substantial financial funds even in Belarus (Being confronted by the whole might of the state machinery and mass media by the way). A fool would not have managed to keep all what a few successes to himself and to blame all the failures onto others. Not without a talent. Without the talent one could not have created rock solid power structure on the ruins of the old one in just a couple of years. Not a bad speaker. Feels the audience and what, where and how to say. Fast learning. Knows already quite a lot about the art of Power. (Though his understanding of this art is, saying mildly, peculiar). Is not much overburdened by moral principles. Where are all those who helped him to come to power, who had been working with him during his first years? Let's not touch his private life. Seems to be Suspicious. Belarus is probably second to none in Europe by the number of antipresidential plots uncovered. Possesses total control of the country. It seems that cocks do not crow without a presidential decree.

OK, let's round up for now. It looks to be not the worst collection for a president if properly balanced. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Instead of growing up to the level of the president, Lukashenko has reduced the state to the level of the collective farm. Though decorated with all the modern attributes such as Parliament, Government, legislation, and even mass media, but still the big collective farm, where the chairman is the Tzar and the God. So, what might be the prospects for the country under Lukashenko's rule? Most likely it is a relatively stable state of slow sliding into the collapse economically, and into a totalitarian regime politically.

P.S. We did not mention Lukashenko being ambitious. Taking into account the upcoming union of Russia and Belarus his ambitions may have more serious consequences. Does not the portrait above resembles somebody else (Hitler, or Stalin if you wish)? They had been starting small too. The desire of two artificially divided parts of the so much experimented upon nation to be together is quite natural, but better it be without such a candidate for the national leader.


The United Opposition

Actually, the only thing which unites the opposition is that they do not like the President. Some former officials sacked by the president, some members of the old parliament disbanded by the President, a whole bunch of a single member parties with lovely names and no political, social and economical platform behind, some honest people feeling that something is wrong but not knowing what exactly, all of them create some noise, keep human rights organizations busy but do not influence the political situation much. The Belarusian Popular Front is probably the only real political organization. It was born in the narrow circle of intellectuals whose way of making their living was the supported by the state Belarusian language, folklore and culture. (Frankly, not the best paid jobs in the Soviet Belarus, so bright minds were usually looking for the occupations elsewhere). Inspired by the successes of the nationalistic movements in the Baltic Republics they have started their political activity having gone even further then the teachers making nationalism and anti Russian sentiments the core of their political platform, their ideology. Well, in the country where half of the population has relatives in Russia, and used to live or to work in Russia never feeling to be a foreigner? Where The Great Patriotic War is still remembered? Where Russian is the everyday language? When reliably sealed from the West and treated like second rate humans even by Poles and humiliated by their own bureaucrats people always receive warm welcome from average Russians, however overburdened by their own problems? When people do not see any difference with their neighbors across the border? Whose economy is tightly integrated with the Russian one?
What about economical platform? Well, no particular. Let's destroy this ugly Soviet era stile house with the Russian smell in every corner we are living in and then build a new pure Belarusian but western stile dream house on the ruins. Where and how to live in between? What a petty details in the great course of the Belarusian statehood. The West will help us.
One does not have to have a University degree in politics to see that this Opposition has no chances of winning elections, at least during the next 3 to 4 generations. So what, one more Great Whatever Month this time Nationalist Revolution? It looks so. And the last October 1999 political action of the BPF indicates that the revolution is not supposed to be velvet. Could anybody remind us of a revolution which did not end up as a totalitarian regime? However this probably satisfies the sponsors.

A couple of words about the leaders. Zyanon Paznyak, former Chairman of the BPF, an emigrant now. In comparison to the President does not display his positive features and has the same negative ones. Aggressive authoritarian stile. Ventsuk Vyachorka, the acting chairman of the BPF. The same as the latter but even more aggressive. (Sorry for possible errors in transliteration. That's always the problem).

So, what to expect if this Opposition comes to power by some sort of magic? Fast collapse of whatever little left of the economy. One more round of renaming towns, villages and streets. Ethnic cleansings. And finally, Nationalist totalitarian regime.


Demos
(Or the spectators if you wish)

Rural population. It is not spoiled by democracy. They have seen a lot of collective farm chairmen, and Lukashenko looks quite decent in comparison. Much more dependant on the potatoes harvest on their tiny plots of land and on their own collective farm chairmen, then on the country's economical situation, they are being duly impressed by Lukashenko speaking their language and sacking a high ranking official from time to time. They will vote for Lukashenko.

Working class. (Please forgive the terminology). Cursing the President but not much, they prefer to receive in time whatever small wages they have, not sweating hard by the way, then being unemployed or not being paid for months like in Democratic Russia or Ukraine. Besides they really enjoy the President chasing those fat new Belarusians, who have made their fortunes stealing the state's property under the corrupted and fraudulent democrats, whatever little time they were in power. So, working class will vote for Lukashenko.

Intellectuals. Though unwanted elements in this country, they still exist in small quantities. Frankly, many of them would have preferred to recover from the years of humiliation, arbitrariness and petty tyranny of all kinds of chairmen somewhere else, where the common sense rules. No luck. Western democracies so concerned about human rights in this country deny them the right to live where they want. So, disappointed, frustrated and depressed some of them will probably ignore any elections at all, some of them will vote for any one but Lukashenko.

Big private businesses. Alas! No more in this country.

Small businesses and private entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, but quite substantial social layer. These people really deserve to be admired. Squeezed between the racket of the state's fiscal system, corrupted bureaucrats and the criminal racket they  manage to survive by some miracle as yet. Forced into shadow economy (Under the existing legislation it is just impossible to run a business absolutely legally) they work on the edge so to say and are the most vulnerable social group. Too busy trying to adapt to ever changing rules they are far from politics. Suffering under Lukashenko's rule probably more then others and seeing no other political force they could have counted on, they will largely ignore elections, or vote for Lukashenko just for the sake of political stability. (To be forced out of business into more controllable category later on).


Conclusions.

Mr. Lukashenko will enjoy his absolute power for another 20 to 30 years (Depends on his health). Europe should be prepared to have one more totalitarian regime, some sort of Xhodga's Albania or Chaushesku's Romania (Sorry for transliteration once more), and to handle its consequences in 20 to 30 years. Belarusians, who still did not, should seriously consider acquiring a plot of land to grow potatoes. Well, unless a new political force emerges, driven not by emotions and by the drugs of ideologies but by the sober pragmatism of common sense.


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Last modified: April 23, 2001