Dictatorship always means war
14:18, Natallia Radzina — Opinion
Belarus became a model for Russia.
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Russia’s military aggression came as a true shock for the West. Analysts from all over the world cannot understand how it could happen and how their recent partner Vladimir Putin turned into an aggressor and intruder to sovereign European countries.
The Belarusian factor however is missing from nearly all analyses. It seems as if the world has forgotten about “Europe’s last dictatorship”. Western strategic thinkers don’t talk about Aliaksandar Lukashenka’s dictatorship, neither yesterday during the revolt in Kyiv, nor today during the war between Ukraine and Russia. Meanwhile, this dictatorship has given birth to Viktor Yanukovich’s corrupted autocratic regime and Vladimir Putin’s regime with its foreign and home aggression.
A friend of mine, who is a coach, once said that if a sportsman cannot lift 50 kilograms he will never lift 250 kilograms. Similarly, for a long time Putin has been testing durability of the West, watching its politics regarding Lukashenka’s dictatorship in Putin’s neighbor Belarus.
The Belarusian dictator has been ruling for 20 years. During this time, the country has gradually turned into a dictatorship of the Latin American model. We have our concentration camps – an entire chain of reformatories and jails where people are kept in hideous conditions, where prisoners are harassed and tortured. “Squadrons of death” operate in the country. They kidnap and murder politicians, businessmen, public figures and journalists.
In fact, the Belarusian people stood alone against the totalitarian regime supported by Moscow. Dozens of thousand Belarusians repeatedly went to the streets to struggle for their freedom and dignity. During these two decades, hundreds of thousands have been imprisoned. Some were thrown behind the bars, and forced to shut up and leave the fight for their freedom and rights. Some lost their business to the regime, and their every initiative and civil activity was suppressed. This intimidation of the business has resulted, among other things, in a complete lack of financing of the Belarusian opposition.
Belarus has no free elections, independent parliament, independent court system, freedom of speech. Lukashenka and his family control the entire criminal structure. This “family” includes Lukashenka’s two elder sons who together with their father control all power institutions and the oligarch businesses that feeds them from various deals and operations, such as selling petroleum products to the West.
Yes, it is true. It was not only Russia that has supported the Belarusian dictatorship all these years, giving loans that will never be paid back, giving oil and gas. It was the West, too, who supports the dictatorship with corrupted affairs of some European businessmen, purchases of petroleum products and potassium, weapons smuggled to countries-outcasts.
Belarusian democrats have talked a lot about the dictatorship and tried to draw the attention of the European Union and the U.S.A. to this problem. They urged to start with actual effective sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime, to stop supporting him with loans. Unfortunately, European bureaucrats did not go any further than expressing “deep concern” and applying weak meaningless sanctions. The result of this weakness is the current state of the nation, mauled by repressions and deprived of possibilities to have a life during 20 years, and the “lukashenkanization” of the entire region.
How could Yanukovich re-appear in the democratic Ukraine after the victory of the Orange Revolution? Why has democracy turned into dictatorship in no time? All because Ukraine’s neighbor Lukashenka has demonstrated leaders of the post-soviet countries that they can do crimes without any punishment.
Do you think Yanukovich was the first to shoot at demonstrators? Lukashenka had done it first, in 2006 after the presidential elections, when armed special units stood against the people who went to the streets to protest against falsifications.
Violence came to Maidan after the provocations that were very similar to what the Belarusian special services had done during the presidential elections 2010. After the elections, Lukashenka was able to suppress with violence peaceful protest of thousands in Minsk and arrest all independent presidential candidates.
Belarus became an example for Russia, too. Putin has seen that a tyrant ruling even such a small country as Belarus can do anything. Today, the “cleansing” of the opposition and civil society in Russia evolves according to Lukashenka’s scenario, with the same Draconian laws, the same methods of destruction of independent media and politically active people. Putin’s junta is applying every method that has been tested for decades in Belarus.
The laissez-faire politics, lack of a strategy and unwillingness to realize that post-soviet dictatorships are growing stronger, have put the world on the brink of war. As a matter of fact, the war has already begun. Right now, the Ukrainian people are at war, but soon Russian troops can invade Moldova, or even the Baltic states. In 1936, who knew what plans Hitler had?
Aliaksandar Lukashenka and Kim Jong-un have indeed became two of Putin’s few allies in this war. Today Russian monitoring bases, more than 20 Russian fighter jets and several cargo aircrafts are located in Belarus. Let us not forget that Russia and Belarus have a common air defense system and their aircrafts and rocket launchers are all “air-to-surface”.
Moreover, according to some sources, soldiers and officers of the Russian army have been working in Belarus for some time now. Russian military wear uniform of the Belarusian armed forces; they serve in their own military divisions and answer to the Russian commandment.
Right before the Ukrainian crisis there was a common military training of Belarusian and Russian military, which included such exercises as nuclear attacks on Warsaw and intrusion to Kaliningrad through Lithuania.
There is no doubt that if the Russian army invades Ukraine, there can be a real attack on Kyiv, even from the north – from Belarus. We get regular reports about military units moving across the country towards the Ukrainian border. Lukashenka’s words about some kind of independence is pure bravado and an attempt to bargain with the West. The Kremlin’s marionette will immediately do anything Putin tells him to do. “No matter what I do now when I talk with Ukraine, the West, the East and so on, if what we talk about regards Russia, I will not move a finger without first agreeing it with the government of the Russian Federation,” Lukashenka said a week after his meeting with Aleksandr Turchinov, the acting president of Ukraine.
In fact, the dictator’s Belarus has become a Russian protectorate. There is no doubt that the Russian army will protect Lukashenka from any rallies and protests in Belarus. The same Russian army that today is occupying and splitting Ukraine whose people have tried to choose their own way to freedom and democracy.
Indeed, Putin is restoring the Soviet Union that collapsed under the weight of unsolvable economic problems. But Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and the Baltic states are not the only countries who are in the risk zone. The struggle between truth and lies, good and evil has re-emerged. In this struggle, we must hold to what we believe is right.
Natallia Radzina is the editor-in-chief of the Belarusian website charter97.org, former political prisoner who served her term in the KGB prison, presently - a political refugee in Europe.
Website charter97.org is the most popular Belarusian independent news portal. Its monthly audience reaches 4 million unique visitors.
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