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Why Europe can’t support protests in Belarus

Democratic values, once a bright idea, have become a stone on the neck of Europe, which is dragging it into the abyss of chaos. Now there is a chance to fix it.

Presidential elections were held in Belarus yesterday. Their results were predictable. Alexander Lukashenko, who ruled for the past 26 years, has again won a landslide victory. According to official preliminary data from the Central Election Commission, 80.23% of voters, or 4.652 million people, voted for the incumbent. In second place was Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who decided to run for president after her husband went to jail. 9.9% of citizens supported the leader of the opposition, which went into hiding on Saturday evening after the arrest of nine employees of her election campaign. She appeared on Sunday at a polling station surrounded by the press and proxies. As her press secretary Anna Krasulina noted, this is “the most reliable protection.”

Despite the huge gap in the number of votes, Lukashenko’s current triumph appears to be the darkest in his entire history. The president is accused of rigging the vote, and protests have not subsided in Belarus since Sunday evening. The confrontation between citizens and special forces was recorded in about 20 cities. In Minsk, police used flashbangs and tear gas to disperse people. Cases of collisions were recorded there all night. The media reported casualties on both sides.

“This is by far the biggest protest I’ve ever seen in Belarus since Lukashenka came to power,” said David Marples, a professor at the University of Alberta.

European countries could not stay away from what was happening. They called on official Minsk to “fully recognize and observe democratic standards”, as well as renounce violence and “respect fundamental freedoms and human rights and civil rights, including the rights of national minorities and the right to freedom of speech”. Such a joint statement was made by Andrzej Duda and Gitanas Nauseda – the President of Poland, where they practically declared war on the LGBT community, and the President of Lithuania, where they have long adhered to a discriminatory policy against the Russian population. Are their claims against Lukashenka justified? Is that, from the point of view of the politics of countries that are persistently trying to attract the attention of the “elders”, namely the United States. But for Western Europe, support for the protests in Belarus is unacceptable.

We will not talk about how unceremoniously the Yellow Vests protests were dispersed in France. Although those events did not have any political and legal consequences, now something else is important. Europe needs Lukashenko! Now, when the world is mired in another economic crisis, trade relations with Russia no longer seem to be something dubious. The leaders of the European Union are making this clear. Could Lukashenka Become a Mediator? Definitely yes. At the same time, he would not play along with Russia, since he himself has recently been inclined to cooperate with the West.

At the end of the last century, it was Lukashenka who initiated the Agreement on the Creation of the Union State. The concept implied close integration of Belarus and Russia. But Lukashenka saw himself at the head of the confederation. When Vladimir Putin entered the political arena, he seized the initiative. In this regard, Lukashenka’s interest in his own idea diminished. Moreover, now it is he who is the guarantor that Belarus will preserve its independence from Russia.

Whether someone likes it or not, Lukashenko is a guarantor of stability not just in another post-Soviet republic, but in the center of Europe.

The Lukashenka administration is mired in corruption, but what guarantees are there that opposition leaders won’t succumb to temptation if they wield power? When Ukrainians came out to protest against the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovych, none of them could have thought that Petro Poroshenko would be even more corrupt. They believed that he, a wealthy entrepreneur, would not stoop to stealing.Lukashenka cannot be called a democratic leader, and his rule does not correspond to European values. But how often were these values observed in Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity? Pressure on journalists, numerous nationalist organizations and tragic incidents such as the burning of people in Odessa in the spring of 2014 have become a dark spot in the country’s recent history.

Finally, the Revolution of Dignity provoked a split in society. As a result, the war has been going on in the east of Ukraine for seven years, and thousands have become victims. Crimea was captured by Russia in general, which took advantage of the chaos.

By supporting the protesters, can Europe ensure that history does not repeat itself? Public opinion polls show that in the Gomel, Brest and Grodno regions, the countries are most committed to allied relations with Russia. They can easily become hotbeds of separatism, instability and even hostilities. If the Ukrainian Donbass is located relatively far from the borders of the European Union, then Brest and Grodno are literally close to Poland’s side. Just imagine that there will be a hybrid war hotspot for years to come. Are European leaders ready to take another risk?

Of course, democratic values are important, but Europe has become hostage to its own ideas. If she does not support the opposition protests, it would be a betrayal, notes Andreas Klute, a Bloomberg columnist.

“If the demonstrations turn into an all-out revolution, it is likely to drag Putin into another round of hybrid war and geopolitical escalation that will ultimately make the EU appear powerless,” he says.In a world with many very different political situations and conditions, it is unacceptable to pass everything through the prism of values. You should look at what is happening realistically, otherwise the consequences can be dire. In any case, now Europe has to go through a serious test, which in one way or another will affect the future of the continent. The only question is whether these changes will be positive.

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SteveK9
SteveK9
August 10, 2020

Practically the only leader who did not impose the idiotic ‘lockdowns’. If I were Belarusian, he would have had my vote.

bobert
bobert
August 10, 2020

europe knows little or nothing about democratic values. just look at the EU. democratic values what a joke.

Bob Valdez
Bob Valdez
Reply to  bobert
August 10, 2020

Hahaha! Bingo!

Fly on the Wall
Fly on the Wall
Reply to  bobert
August 10, 2020

Well, they’re certainly ahead of the US.

Clarity
Clarity
August 10, 2020

Germany has already denounced this election, saying very clearly that democratic norms have not been observed. So wrong on that one. Other European states will surely follow. Crimea was not captured by Russia.

Major issues like this makes all other points in this article questionable.

Clarity
Clarity
Reply to  Clarity
August 10, 2020

I would argue that there was an attempt to guaido Belarus and since that did not work it is now time to provoke a Maidan.

Too many players inside Belarus although I would also say that Lukashenko is deliberately blind to which side the bigger danger comes from. His age is not going to work in his favor either. His ego has already prevented him too many times from realizing that he sits atop on rather big country with too few people to make a success of it by itself. He is vulnerable.

peter mcloughlin
August 10, 2020

Europe does need a “guarantor of stability” is the growing instability between Russia and NATO. History has a habit of repeating itself as European nations well know.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

angelcyn
angelcyn
August 10, 2020

The Daily Maul said a dictator won by a landslide. Since when does a dictator hold elections? What a rag.

Olivia Kroth
August 10, 2020

Belarus is not an EU member. It is no business of the EU who governs Belarus. EU states need to mind their own business.

jpthiran
jpthiran
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
August 11, 2020

…a few more year under the iron fist and poverty…the only thing that Putin and friends can offer to there countries…how depressing and sinister!…but you are paid to say it’s marvelous Olivia!…right ?…

Whispering sweet nothings in your ear
Whispering sweet nothings in your ear
Reply to  jpthiran
August 11, 2020

No, it stinks but as an alternative, so do you.

Fly on the Wall
Fly on the Wall
August 10, 2020

That’s all well and good but I’ll tell you the REAL reason why the EU or US can’t or won’t support them like they did in Ukraine. 1) because even thought there are neo-nazis in Belarus, they’re nowhere near the number or as organized or ingrained as in Ukraine, nor have they received monetary and other support from the West to any significant degree in preparation for a coup d’etat. 2) Because certainly the EU and I assume some in the US acknowledge the stark reality that to anyone they now lend support anywhere is marked with a scarlet letter.… Read more »

bluedogg
bluedogg
Reply to  Fly on the Wall
August 10, 2020

Stomp them and stomp them hard arrest the woman for inciting to riot then let the courts decide their guilt….

Diana
Diana
August 11, 2020

Of course he’s a dictator and what Belarus does is no business of NATO. Lukashenko hasn’t threatened to invade anyone and is unlikely to do so. He recently announced that he had refused large sums of money from the IMF in exchange for letting them in and locking up the country and its inhabitants. For anyone with half a brain there was only one choice.

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