The situation may go out of Lukashenka’s control very fast.
An expert on Belarus, a member of the management of the German-Belarusian Society Peter Liesegang stated that in an interview to Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta. He believes that the power can change any moment in Belarus.
“I opened Belarus for myself in 1997-1998. Then the German-Belarusian Society came to being, which I became a member of and took a management position later. I have always been interested in the political situation in the whole world: the USA, Germany and other countries. But already in 1997-1998 it could be felt that such a political situation emerged in Belarus, that the country was not going forward, but back, having chosen a difficult path, the country was becoming isolated. The more people from Belarus I knew, the harder I perceived the political situation in Belarus and the life of the society there. In 2001 I was an observer at the elections there and kept carrying out this function in 2004, 2006 and 2008 (the latter three times it was long-term observation). I saw what was happening during elections in different towns”, - he says.
Peter Liesegang told that after the elections of 2006 it was decided that he could no longer come to Belarus. He only managed to get a visa in 2008.
“I did not observe the elections in 2010 as an OSCE representative anymore. Later I was there in October Square and Niezalezhnasci Square, witnessed what took place there. I left on 22 December and have not been to Belarus ever since, but the situation in this country is very interesting to me, I follow it, I have many contacts with competent people in Belarus and Germany alike”, - Peter Liesegang says.
The expert notes that sociological surveys in the conditions of a dictatorship should not be trusted.
“There is a very complicated situation in Belarus. Several times more complicated than, for example, in the Ukraine. The authorities have the control over all the media except for the Internet. That is why it is hard to believe the results of sociological surveys, according to which Belarusians believe someone more and someone less. In Belarus it is unreal to find out whom people actually believe. I do not believe sociological surveys. But I am one hundred percent sure that if there is a small reason, there will be a mass demonstration, and probably someone whom no one knows will be the leader (he does not necessarily has to be an oppositionist). If there is a situation, in which the authorities react wrongly (for example, shoots its citizens, God forbid), then there will be a revolution in Belarus”, - he said.
Peter Liesegang noted that the seeming stability is always very unstable, and the system is not programmed for functioning in difficult situations.
“The authorities do not know how to behave if 100 thousand people come out in the street. Apart from that, there is a large number of people among officials of the highest ranks in Lukashenka’s entourage, who do not believe him. However, there are real lukashists in Belarus, ready to kill for him, kill those, who are against the authorities. I met such people, but they are few. Lukashenka has two leverages of control: fear and money. That is why the people working for him, able to change the situation from the top, are silent: they have fear and a possibility to earn good money. But if something changes there on the top (there is less fear of money), and the entourage is no longer loyal, the situation may go out of Lukashenka’s control very fast”, - Peter Liesegang claimed.
The expert reminded that Russia has been giving increasingly less money to Belarus, the profits from the trade on arms, oil and gas have decreased. According to him, this all tells that the system is unstable, including financially.
“In such a situation officials may say – we no longer want to be loyal, and then the system will fall. This is how it happened in DDR: there was a pressure from above, there was the discontent at the bottom, this coincided and the system fell apart like a house of cards. […]
The situation may develop differently. Remember the case, when in Niamiha in 2011 passersby fought with police and conductors for a stowaway, women beat policemen with their purses. It is very easy for the authorities to stumble in such a situation, when there is a mass public gathering, increasing number of policemen and increasing tension. Something serious may arise from something small. Apart from that, you riot police, that trains every day, mostly likes receives orders to beat, but to be careful. TO beat but not kill, but they can kill anyone anytime. But if there are several killed in a crowd, everything will change very fast in Belarus. And Lukashenka knows it very well”.
Peter Liesegang has criticized that European Union’s position on official Minsk.
“The EU believes that a dialogue should be had with the Belarusian authorities, although they know that Lukashenka killed people (although not with his own hands), but they believe that there may be a liberalization in Belarus like in 2009 and think that it can happen again. Germany’s reaction after the 2010 elections surprised me, since the head of the German MFA Guido Westerwelle was in Minsk in November before the elections and met Lukashenka. Apparently, Westerwelle supposed that Lukashenka would fulfill all his requests. However, there were over 600 people in prisons after the elections, many were beaten. The German minister then seriously thought that it was possible to negotiate with Lukashenka and turned out to be wrong.
In the EU they understand that not all the questions may be solved in Belarus with the civil society. There are gas transit, the construction of the nuclear power plant, trafficking in people and other problems. These questions are to be solved with the state, but it is impossible to talk about political changes in a dialogue with the state. It means that the EU should take steps on its part. The first step is the abandonment of visas for everyone apart those in the black list for all the people in Belarus to know: I can go to the EU tomorrow if I want.
Economic sanctions could be very productive if the EU completely stopped cooperating with Belarus in the sphere of the trade on oil products. In this case the situation in Belarus would change already in couple months. But this is difficult and it is not the best way. This is similar to a war. Apart from that Belarusians should change their mentality, and this is a very long process”, - Peter Liesegang said.