15 December 2018, Saturday, 4:08
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Andrei Sannikov: "Russia will always be Belarus' strategic partner"

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A US magazine "Newsweek" has made a sensational statement: the Kremlin has decided which candidate would be supported by them in the presidential elections in Belarus.

Half a decade after a series of "colored revolutions" toppled Moscow-backed rulers across the former Soviet Union and replaced them with pro-Western ones, the Kremlin seems to be finally getting its payback, "Newsweek" writes.

It is possible that the Russian authorities would soon be able to overturn two more leaders of the neighbouring countries, Mikheil Saakashvili and Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukahsenka), the journalist do not exclude.

According to the magazine, already this year Russia can count two scalps—Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko and Kyrgyzstan's Kurmanbek Bakiyev, both ousted by challengers friendlier to Moscow. While it would be a stretch to say that Russia was the sole architect and puppet master of Ukraine's February presidential election and Kyrgyzstan's messy coup in April, the country certainly played a key role, the magazine underlines. This year's strategic victories have inspired the Kremlin to encourage further regime change in what Russians still call their "near abroad."

According to the magazine, target No. 1 is Georgia and its fervently pro-NATO president, Mikheil Saakashvili. Pro-Kremlin Duma deputy Sergei Markov promises that Moscow is planning "a second Bishkek" to oust Saakashvili—a reference to the rioting last month that forced the Kyrgyz president to flee. That's a piece of bluster—but one that has a hard grain of truth to it, states the magazine.

The Kremlin is sticking to its strategy: to befriend and empower groups that oppose Moscow's enemies, the magazine writes.

Belarus's mercurial President Alexander Lukashenko could soon be on the Kremlin's target list after demanding rent for Russian military bases and sheltering the ousted Kyrgyz president. Moscow's candidate of choice could well be Andrei Sannikov, a veteran Belarussian opposition leader who is not too close to the West and has declared that he is "ready to embrace Russian help if it comes from the right people." Lukashenko, he says, "has been scared lately after he saw how Russia can support a revolution in former Soviet countries," the publication informs.

Charter97.org website has asked the leader of "European Belarus" civil campaign Andrei Sannikov to comment on the startling statements by "Newsweek" magazine.

"Establishing normal relations with Russia is long overdue. The Russian Federation will always be Belarus' strategic partner. If my main aims -- a free Belarus in 2011 and Belarus in the EU in 2016-2017 -- would be well recieved by Moscow, then we can discuss all issues which are of concern both to us and to Russia.There is nothing impossible in that. The model of such relations is Ukraine. Russia has taken in the stride the strategic choice of Ukraine in the direction of Europe, and deals with a legitimate president who had been elected fairly and recognized by the international community. We see how mant years the talks are held and Russian-Ukrainian relations are built. The same is to happen in Belarus, when the authorities elected by the nation will emerge here," the politician said.