The Belarusian opposition is alive and continues to fight.
From time to time I hear profound maxims from my European interlocutors, even friends or former friends: "Lukashenka is a strong politician."
When the legitimate question "What’s his strength?" arises, a following kind of dialogue takes place:
– So what's his strength?
– Well, he’s been in power for so many years.
– That is obvious, but what is his strength?
– But he's been in power for so long.
– So give it to me straight that his strength is in having built a dictatorship in a European country, having destroyed all rights and freedoms, having created a mafia clan.
– But look what flexibility he shows skillfully walking a tightrope between Moscow and the West.
– He shows flexibility under Moscow, but what he wants from the West is just money with no conditions attached.
In general, such a meaningless dialogue can last for a long time, but it ends almost always in the same way. Not a single interlocutor has ever admitted that Lukashenka owes his longevity also to the West. And if you mention it, then another predictable dialogue comes.
– There are more urgent things to attend to right now, Lukashenka is not the most important problem and not the biggest evil. Look, what is happening in Iraq (in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Myanmar, Ukraine, again in Iraq, Ecuador, Venezuela, again in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Egypt, etc.), and there is also Al Qaeda , ISIS, international terrorism ... Brexit, Trump, Erdogan...
And it has been going on and on for all the 23 years of Lukashenka's rule.
– Yes, but in spite of all these crises, the West has both the strength and the means to support Lukashenka.
– What do you mean – support? We do impose sanctions on him from time to time.
– What kind of sanctions are those? They are just some complications with getting a visa, which could be circumvented easily. However, the dictatorial regime is allocated loans, business is developing, trade turnover is growing, smuggling is encouraged, dirty business schemes involving the West operate smoothly.
– It's business you know, nothing personal. Besides, your opposition is weak and fragmented. Who is there to help? Why are you blaming the West?
– I'm not even talking about helping the opposition, but about stopping to help the dictator financially (by credits and business), politically (by recognizing the legitimacy of his illegal bodies and maintaining contacts with criminals) and morally (lifting even soft sanctions from serial criminals). As for the weakness, the 23 years of struggle, prisons, murders, torture, betrayal of the West, of course, have not increased our strength, but we are alive and continue the fight. You should at least notice it. We are not blaming the West, but we expect you to defend your own values and principles. Today it’s only you who can protect international law and international justice until it's too late.
As a rule, the most active interlocutors soon find themselves in the bunch of "experts" on Belarus, lobbying Lukashenka's interests.
They have found their master, they get their small profit and for some reason do not want to see that the "strong" politician Lukashenka has brought the country to a terrible state. They do not want to notice that the times of discontent with the current regime are long gone in Belarus. Today, people hate it.
However, the West also does not want to notice that Lukashenka had been the forerunner of all the hideosity that poured into the Western world in the last decade. It fails to relate the elementary reasons and consequences: the impunity of petty dictators gives rise to the dictators of a larger scale, striving and being able to turn the West into their habitat. The "strength" of the mediocrity that triumphs in the world today has roots in this impunity. Impunity generates the insolence of the fuhrers and leads to wars.
Putin is of course at the head of this aggressive mediocrity, but his political preferences have been formed under the strong influence of the general authoritarian-dictatorial clique that arose on the territory of the former USSR.
Putin is an offshoot of lukashenkas, who, with the help of the West, have built their own local dictatorships. The political grandchildren of Stalin had sit it out, looked around, stolen a quantity – no one snapped at them properly, – and now openly unleashed war against the West.
All these nazarbayevs, rakhmons, lukashenkas, the dynasty of the aliyevs, the berdymukhamedovs, following the niyazovs, the mirziyoyevs, following the karimovs and, of course, putins, continue to plunder their peoples with impunity, having deprived us of the right to vote, in full confidence that no one would stop them.
These "strong" politicians wanted to spit on useless conventions such as human rights and freedoms, and even on mere human decency.
And what about the West? And the West acting through the EU is going to invite Lukashenka to visit Brussels to participate in the Eastern Partnership summit. Bingo! It would be a good idea to invite Donbass gangsters, those plotnitskys and zakharchenkos, who claim that they have been elected legally as well. They are very promising scoundrels. Besides, they are geographically located in the Eastern Partnership zone.
Andrei Sannikov, coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign, chairman of the International Commission of the Belarusian National Congress, specially for Charter97.org