Pro-Russian groups in Belarus are getting more active.
On April 18 the government has initiated the trial against Taras Avatarau, who participated in military actions in the Right Sector battalion, Ukraine.
Earlier in April, the "Parliament" adopted amendments to the legislation that imply the imprisonment for persons, who participate in military conflicts abroad, because of idea, not for money.
Besides, last week one more Belarusian, who was fighting in the Azov battalion in Ukraine, was detained.
Why do Belarusian authorities not persecute pro-Russian militants? Vadzim Smok wonders - the project coordinator of the Astrahorsk Centre of Belarus and employee of Political Sphere Institute - while talking to Radio Racyja.
- It is worth noting not only these two detained, but the situation with young groups in Belarus: I'm talking about football fans movement and other groups, who may become active participants in mass protests. According to the information received from open sources, it is seen that, in fact, there has been conducted a tough mopping up of different groups, which are not under control of the government.
It is done to minimize different threats of mass protests. Now we are not able to observe and think it through in full, amendments have been recently adopted, but I think that a clear light will shed upon the position of the government in the near future.
- You've drawn attention to radical groups, but they are pro-Belarusian in most cases. Why do Belarusian authorities ignore, for instance, military-patriotic groups of the Belarusian Cossacks?
- Pro-Russian groups we call Cossacks or other Orthodox groups have a great support in Belarus on the part of a few groups. First, these are siloviki with pro-Russian picture of the world, or they are ethnic Russians or have friends/colleagues in Russia, or even have close ties with Russian structures. Second, it is the Orthodox Church, which takes them under its wing.
It is important to realize that these organizations style themselves as pro-Belarusian organizations. But if we take a look at social network, we can see that most of them consider Belarus a part of Russia and, in fact, deny such nation identity. There is a contradiction between their position and their real views.
Nevertheless, it results in more loyal attitude of the Belarusian government; they freely implement their activity, take trainings in military camps and, I guess, hold an ideological work. I think most of them took part in the military conflict in the Donbas.
- How does the Belarusian government realize that social problems may cause insecurity and, in perspective, creation of "People's Republics", and the interference of foreign states in the policy of Belarus?
In my view, the government can barely imagine it. It mostly deals with macro-social issues of the nation-wide character, but not regional ones. No one takes investigations, surveys, although the Russian propaganda being recently held coincided with low living standards in the regions, absence of work. It may result in extremely negative consequences, but, unfortunately, the Belarusian government draws almost no attention to it, or it just doesn't want to, it is hard to say.
But I think it is a significant problem.
The authorities should take a look at the activity of pro-Russian groups in Belarus. I believe it is not right when school children participate in trainings organized by people with pro-Russian views and have the pro-Russian way of thinking.