16 July 2019, Tuesday, 0:12
We are in the same boat

Andrei Sannikov: Lukashenka – Kolkhoz Version of Putin


The dictator poses the greatest threat to Belarus like never before.

The Munich Conference played in hands of Lukashenka, who is aggressive about the West, who destroys independent media, to say nothing of a political opposition and a civic society," former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, ex-presidential candidate and leader of the European Belarus civil campaign Andrei Sannikov informed Polskie Radio.

Andrei Sannikov says that Vladimir Putin uses Belarus as the ground to suppress the European society, to undermine values and principles of democracy.

"The democratic society should realize that Lukashenka is the kolkhoz version of Putin," Andrei Sannikov stated.

Former Deputy Minister urges not to bind the pro-Russian policy line of Lukashenka to the entire Belarusian society, which cries for assistance today. Independent media, civil rights defenders, political opposition need help.

Andrei Sannikov states that Lukashenka sells out Belarusian independence by pieces. For example, the deployment of Samarkand electronic warfare system in Belarus can serve as evidence.

- Lukashenka tries to retain his power. If tomorrow Russia decides to penetrate into Belarus, the dictator will do everything to rescue himself, his money, but not our country. He poses the greatest threat to Belarus like never before. Lukashenka will fulfill every wish of Putin, Andrei Sannikov stressed.

- Belarus has recently held the number of visits. I mean the visit of Wess Mitchell, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, the visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, the conference of the leading group of the Munich Security Conference and presence of Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner, Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman at the Munich Security Conference, representatives of Armenia and Serbia. Lukashenka reminded of his offers towards Ukraine, project "Helsinki-2". How could these visits be explained? Are any changes possible in Belarus?

- All these visits differed. As for changes in Belarus, I can say that visits have only postponed them. The Munich Conference helped Lukashenka, who once again demonstrates his aggression towards the West, destroys independent media, to say nothing of the political opposition.

The visit of the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs - Wess Mitchell - who has recently been assigned, is the first visit of such level over many years.

I was surprised with the fact that Mr. Mitchell ignored the meeting with the real opposition, independent journalists, civil rights defenders who needed support.

It's really strange, as I remember Mr. Mitchell as a person with strict position. His previous job related to human rights and democracy. That's why I am surprised. However, I'd like to point out that he left Belarus before the Munich Conference began. I think that Washington D.C demonstrated its position towards such an initiative.

After Minsk Mr. Mitchell visited Vilnius and had the meeting with Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius. I guess among all our neighbors, including Poland, Lithuania takes the most principled position towards Belarus.

I hope that Wess Mitchell made appropriate conclusions despite some awkwardness in organization of the visit.

- What could serve as a reason for the visit?

- It's been his first visit to Belarus as the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Of course, it was about US Ambassador to Belarus - the Embassy has been empty for a while. The Belarusian party is interested in its ambassador in Washington D.С; Americans insist on restoration of normal functioning of their Embassy, which staff is not numerous.

- Ukraine, safety issues, Trump station were discussed during the Munich Conference. It was quite high level for Belarus.

- I would not say that the delegation performed at the high political level. OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger wants to be a friend of Lukashenka, Commissioner Johannes Hahn was appointed by Brussels to meet with the dictator. I think that authoritative politicians- Foreign Minister of Poland is an exception - did not arrive, though Lukashenka's people did their best.

I remember how foreign delegations have taken to a kolkhoz since the Soviet times. This conference reminded me of it. Lukashenka acted high and mighty, humiliated Western politicians, said inappropriate things, his assessment of the situation in Belarus and in the world was out of context.

It looked like Wolfgang Ischinger wanted to organize the conference which Putin might like. And Minsk was the perfect place to do it. And Putin really liked this conference.

Lukashenka attacked Poland in the presence of the Polish Foreign Minister, when he spoke about the reaction of Russia and Belarus to a possible American base in Poland. One more time he demonstrated his obedience and I do not understand how some politicians can see him as "defender of independence of Belarus".

- Lukashenka stated: "If Poland states that it will spend billions for Trump Station; we are not idiots and we will surely response along with our closest ally." He confidently took the side of Russia in the military sphere and accepted the Russian agenda on the matter. The irony is that he supports the threat to the country.

- In addition to anti-monopoly discourse, it was also unwise to offer help to Ukraine. Things he told about did not make any sense.

- There is an opinion that Lukashenka tries every way to preserve independence of Belarus, as the situation escalates.

- I can't agree with it. He does his best to retain power. If tomorrow Russia decides to seize Belarus, Lukashenka will do everything to rescue himself, his money, not our country. He poses the greatest threat to Belarus like never before. He will do everything Putin wants. In my opinion, the democratic world ought to realize that Lukashenka is the kolkhoz version of Putin.

- Were you surprised with Lukashenka's words about an American base in Poland?

- I was expecting something of this kind. There were representatives of Russia on the conference, and they liked words of Lukashenka very much.

- Russia has deployed Samarkand electronic warfare systems in many regions, including the territory of Belarus. Is this decision of extreme importance?

- Yes, it's other proof that Lukashenka sells independence of Belarus. Samarkand is one of the most secret systems in Russia. It is likely they serve as devices to cut off electricity and guided bombing system, and so on. Electronics is the key element of modern Armed Forces.

- It drastically changes the situation.

- I can agree, but experts were not interested much in the deployment of Samarkand electronic warfare systems in Belarus.

- When we speak about the geopolitical situation, it means that Belarus is jeopardized. What could you say about it?

- Politicians should accept the position of NATO, which is completely clear: Belarus is a part of military plans of Russia. Which gives the reason for the desire of NATO to boost the defensive capacity of Poland and the Baltic States. Those who think different are wrong. The thing is that the politicians who do not realize it will resign, but the threat grows.

Lukashenka absolutely has nothing in common with Belarus and the Belarusians. Such events like the Munich Conference should not be held in Minsk and with Lukashenka's participation. Representatives of international organizations should not allow minor dictators to humiliate themselves.

I do not know why the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus visited that Conference. The authorities have rejected her role, they recognize her only as a tutor at a University.

- Do you see any ways to help the civic society of Belarus? It's been 20 years already when Belarusians are not able to choose the direction.

- Lukashenka tries to destroy opposition, independent mass media. However, Belarusians keep resisting. We will not give up. It's necessary to support those who fight for freedom. First of all I mean independent mass media, civil rights defenders, creative people.

- The situation is escalating eastwards. Perhaps, even the urgent problem with human rights may be lost in this chaos.

- Western values experience great challenges in Belarus today. Poland is the one which can perfectly understand it. Today Poland renders huge assistance to the Belarusian democracy unlike other countries. But it should be even more active. As well as entire Europe.

Putin uses Belarus as his main tool to suppress European values. Europe is offered to abandon its values for the sake of illusory safety.