“We are being put under pressure to take part in the electoral farce, so that the US and Europe could have a chance to recognize Lukashenka, that is, the West is substituting notions, and instead of basic notions and principles of democracy and human rights is trying to play some kind of game,” stated one of the leaders of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov in an interview to the Voice of America.
- Recently Russian Ambassador to Belarus reminded Alyaksandr Lukashenka that Moscow is expecting diplomatic recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from him. On Thursday mass media informed that the Belarusian leader sent a letter to president Dmitry Medvedev in this connection, offering to bring up the problem of “the right of South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s nations to self-determination” for consideration of the Collective Security Treaty Organization Council on September 5. What is your opinion about the developments in the relations between Moscow and Minsk?
- First I would like to give assessment of the situation in general. Invasion by Russian troops of the territory of an independent state which was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union has taken place. For the first time in the modern history of this space we are witnessing such an act of aggression, and this probably should be a starting point of all assessments and political steps done by heads and politicians of different states.
Even its allies have been put in a rather complicated situation by Russia. I do not want to put myself in Lukashenka’s place, but trying to imagine his situation, he won’t gain anything from supporting Russia. But he would lose a lot.
Russia has depleted resources of its allies’ financial and economic support, and it never had moral and democratic resources, so it has nothing to base itself upon on any more. And that is why force would be used simply.
Besides, Russia has exhausted diplomatic arsenal as well, so their attempts to talk about mythical union states, or the CIS, it is just ridiculous, is does not exist, it does not work, nobody knows how to bury these political corpses, that’s all.
- For today independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia has been supported by Hezbollah and Hamas, and by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic which hasn’t been recognized by anybody. Even members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation expressed: “deep concern over the tensions around the South Ossetian question”. At the same time, as the British Times writes, Belarus is the only European country except Russia that could recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as it is in fact a Russian vassal.
- Now Lukashenka is trying to manoeuvre between Russia and the West, so he cannot accept concession recognition quickly. Besides, he understands that recognition of Russia’s forcible, aggressive scenario cannot but tell on the situation in Belarus.
Russia demands not only recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Lukashenka, but to take part in military plans of Russia, in resistance to the US, to introduce single currency, to allow Russian capital and companies to privatize property in Belarus.
That is why it’s not a matter of simple recognition. As a matter of fact, it is an issue of Lukashenka’s personal power, and he cannot agree on that. As for relations with the West, the policy of the West towards Belarus is hard to understand. Even now some bargaining is taking place, and its result is incomprehensible, at least for us.
We are being put under pressure to take part in the electoral farce, so that the US and Europe could have a chance to recognize Lukashenka; that is, the West is substituting notions here, and instead of basic notions and principles of democracy and human rights is trying to play some kind of game, which by the way has brought to ruin all its policy towards Russia.
- Let us imagine Lukashenka refuses to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian mass media have already called his behaviour during the Georgian conflict “a betrayal”, and demand to tighten the policy of Moscow towards Minsk. What are the means in Russia’s armoury to punish the “negligent ally”?
- Russia has many legal and illegal methods, like oil, gas and others. If we imagine Lukashenka would effect a turn towards the West, he would be compelled to understand that the situation in the world has changed, and that without solving problems within the country, without offering constructive discussions to the society, which would be followed by concrete results of democratization, and that means without direct communications and talks wit opposition, he won’t gain anything.
That is why he is manoeuvring now, trying to postpone the long overdue decision: the opposition offered its support in defence of independence, but this support is preconditioned by concrete steps of democratisation.
He hadn’t been offered anything by Russia, on the contrary, a lot of pressure is being applied on him, and we see that. The Russian Ambassador is behaving like a barbarian; an ambassador could hardly take the liberty to behave like that in any other country.