Belarusians have faith neither in Lukashenka nor officials.
Having appeared in public after the "stroke", Lukashenka attracted attention of mass media with his weird behavior having given the government the hairdryer treatment on August 14. The dictator accused ministers of sabotage, "neglect" and failure to fulfil his orders.
What conclusions can be drawn from "the Orsha performance" and subsequent shifts in the government? Charter97.org asked coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign and one of the leaders of the Belarusian National Congress Jauhen Afnahel for comments.
- There are BNC activists in Orsha and the Orsha district, and you should know about the situation in the district. Why do you think the dictator overreacted precisely in Orsha? What is behind his hysterics?
- Last May Lukashenka required to establish the iron routine in Orsha and lashed out against officials. He appointed a new head of the District Executive Committee, now he is fired. It all started after spring protests of 2017. Then Orsha hit the record among districts with the greatest number of protesters.
Now activists say that the situation has even worsened in the district. The unemployment level increased, a part of enterprises has a part-time work, workers have to take forced leaves. At that, Orsha is the city of strategic importance, the largest transportation hub. It's only 50 km away from Russia, where thousands of Belarusians leave for work. Many Orsha residents remember 1991, when they blocked the railway demanding the price abatement. I guess the dictator is aware of consequences of protests in such a city. And he is nervous.
The thing is that there are other 117 districts in Belarus with the same or even worse problems. And it's better to impose the state of emergency at once, and not to establish the iron routine as it happened to the Orsha district.
- It resulted it other shift in the government. Can it serve as a proof of dictator's distrust in ministers and the "vertical"?
- Ministers and officials have long been neglecting most of ruler's orders. First, those who are still capable of critical thinking know that most of Lukashenka's "idea" are not realistic. Second, they know that no severe punishment will follow, he will either yell at them on camera or shift positions.
Even if they are jailed, then not for long. There is no one to replace them. Intelligent and self-respecting people will not agree to be in the "vertical", at least because they do not want to be victims of demonstrative threshing. The only way out is to make these officials to work under the whiplash shifting them from time to time. That's the reason why meetings on appointments are supervised by law enforcement officers.
There's no use to mention any mutual reliabilty under the system of fear, denunciations and damaging materials. Everyone plays his role. Lukashenka pretends he runs the country and takes control over the situation. Ministers and officials pretend they fulfil his orders. Both sides know that it's lie, but they are concentrating on their functions knowing that this overnight circus is dispersed in a minute as soon as people are no longer uninvolved spectators.
- The removal of the prime minister and some ministers coincided with the economic situation deterioration in Belarus, collapse of the ruble and the stock market of Russia caused by American sanctions. What other hardships will Lukashenka's regime face in case of the default of Russia many analysts speak of? May protests and strikes of 1998 reoccur?
- Despite the depreciation of ruble in 1998, many Belarusians believed Lukashenka. Official mass media managed to convince people that Russia and the West were to blame for the crisis and took advantage of it. There were only random strikes of workers. They were enough to force the authorities into salary increase.
Now the situation differs. The vast majority of Belarusians have faith neither in Lukashenka nor officials. They have a good reason to blame them for no jobs, price growth and lack of perspectives. People neglect them and hate them. That's why the slightest spark is enough to set fire across the country.
The dictator and his inner circle have long lost confidence in the future. And, hence, we can witness endless hysterics on camera. But it makes no use, on the contrary... Lukashenka looks ridiculous. He looks miserable. His "public appearance after the stroke" became a wild farce and the failure of the state propaganda. People witnessed weak, vacillating person.
- After the scandalous meeting on the situation in the Orsha district Lukashenka stated that "many people try to cast stones at his decisions" and ordered his press service to collect comments on him on the Internet. Why has the dictator become so concerned about it?
- I do not know, Kolya might learn how to bypass the blockage of Charter and serfed social networks, and told his father what the real opinion of people was. Or it may be the idea of the dictator's inner circle taking care of the health state of the boss and, thus, trying to set his mind at rest. It's clear he will not see real comments.
There is only one thing Belarusians want to know - when Lukashenka resigns. But the dictator will not answer this question. We are the one to give this answer.