Belarus has got a historic chance.
On January 15, Russian President Putin announced large-scale changes in the Constitution, which provide for serious redistribution of powers and authority.
Immediately after that, the Russian government resigned in full, and Mikhail Mishustin was appointed the future prime minister instead of Dmitry Medvedev.
What does this change mean for Russia itself and its neighbors?
One of the leaders of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Pavel Seviarynets answers the questions of Charter97.org:
- It is objectively good for Belarus that Putin, at least for the moment, has left attempts to absorb our country to become the leader of the "union state". To all appearances, this scenario has been postponed. And here we should thank all those people who bravely went out and protested in December. They deserve credit for fighting off the Russian invasion.
And as for Russia itself, what happened was the logical culmination of the model of Yeltsin's democracy. During the reign of Yeltsin, there was an attempt to build a Western-style democracy from the Russian Empire - with presidential elections, local self-government, with freedom of speech, with the balance of power.
And just the other day, Putin simply said what would happen to the country, and by his personal decision altered both the Constitution and all legal norms. And he organized the transfer of power with retaining his determining role on the model of Kazakhstan. What happened in Russia is backwardness, an attempt by the ruler to keep everything under his control while he is alive.
I think that now there will be a period of serious unrest in Russia related to this. Because today's government is practically not appreciated by Russians, and such an attempt to alter all the constitutional norms can end with mass protests and a palace coup - there are too many people in Russia who have huge amounts of money and their own interests in power, it is an empire after all.
And this means that Belarus may have a chance to break out of Russian embrace and get its freedom. As a rule, periods of relief and historical chances for Belarus appeared when problems or changes began in Russia.
- But if Putin actually leaves, as you said, everything under his control - what is the probability that he will return to activity in the Belarusian direction? Do we need to be on the alert?
- Sure, we must be there. It is true: the Russian threat remains, it hangs over us like an axe. Maybe, now it is not right above our heads, but a little aside, but it is the same axe that has been hacking away Belarusians' heads for centuries.
And so the most important thing we have to do is to solve the problem called "Lukashenka". We have to remove him, because we will not get out of the Russian chains with Lukashenka. Lukashenka has been leading us into this trap for 25 years, he has a Soviet and Moscow-centric mentality, and he will not be able to take advantage of today's historic chance. New people will do it, the Belarusian people will do it.
Therefore, it is necessary to remove Lukashenka and gain real freedom and independence for Belarus.