23 January 2018, Tuesday, 12:55

Siarhiej Navumchyk: Lukashenka has not been president for at least 15 years

Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia in Minsk are a pointless venture.

This is the opinion of the editor of the Belarusian service at Radio Svaboda, former MP of the Belarus Supreme Council Siarhiej Navumchyk, which he expressed in a commentary for the charter97.org web-site on the idea of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko to make Belarus a negotiation ground for solving the crisis.

- How would you assess this “peacemaking” mission of the Belarusian dictator?

- For 20 years already Lukashenka has been doing what Moscow tells him to do. There should be no illusions: he has never been, not is he now an independent actor. The Kremlin holds Belarus as a springboard for trade, for example, on arms.

I absolutely rule out the possibility that Lukashenka would play some positive role in anything, including the sphere of geopolitics. This is a person, who cannot be considered a president for at least 15 years already. Already in a year after having come to power he made a coup and there is no place for him at the negotiations table as the host of the negotiation ground.

- What is his specific benefit in this situation?

- Lukashenka will consolidate his power even more and will find additional dividends in the European Union or in Russia. Unfortunately, now we can observe the pacifying policy on the part of the EU. A situation is in place, which is very similar to 2010 – the so-called liberalization. We all remember, how it ended: with a crackdown on the manifestation and imprisonment of hundreds of people. Whatever Lukashenka gets, the people of Belarus will get nothing good.

We often hear that Russia supports Belarus economically. One the one hand it is true. But on the other, Belarus is a very important military ground for Russia. It is still a question, how much it would cost for Russia to deploy its military bases and air defense systems. This could easily cover the amount of the so-called oil and gas support.

Everything that Lukashenka gets from Russia, only works for the consolidation of his power. He is only concerned about himself. His sitting in this chair, the right for which he has long lost, completely contradicts the interests of the Belarusian people as a European people.

- Could this mean that Lukashenka will try to seek money for the repressive machinery for the upcoming “elections”?

- Yes, you are right. In this sense, Belarus is a terra incognita. No one knows our actual budget amount, including the secret services budget, the one of Lukashenka’s personal security and even the Defense Ministry budget, leave alone what a “presidential fund” is etc.

He equally uses assistance from Russia and assistance from the West for strengthening secret services. This is his priority.

Shushkievich had five bodyguards, Lukashenka has about 3000 of them. He invests all assets in everything linked to his physical protection: bodyguards, residences, jets, helicopters etc. Something goes for the closest circle, and only whatever remains goes to the people.

- Will these negotiations in Minsk bear any fruit?

- I completely rule out the possibility that Putin can stop. Sometimes there is an impression that he simply is not aware of what he is doing. All the diplomatic ways to settle the conflict have been exhausted. Only the language of sanctions and military action remains.

In this case Minsk is simply a ground for the processes, which it has no influence on. This peacemaking function of it is merely to please own pride and not more than that.