There will be no NATO troops here, the regime must crack from within, Alyaksandr Klaskowski says
Does Alyaksandr Lukashenka need a parliament? Why the situation in Belarus reminds a graveyard scene? Why Belarus will not become the Northwest Territory of Russia? What is the force to topple down Europe's last dictatorship?
Political analyst Alyaksandr Klaskowski answered the above questions in the interview with UDF.BY
"The country looks like a graveyard scene"
- The results of the parliamentary election campaign were predicted nearly by all independent media. I seems that the modern history of Belarus did not know such an absurd ... What was that?
- The campaign has shown that the Belarusian authorities have completely emasculated the institution of elections. Indeed, the independent media had published lists of future members in advance, and they did not missed the target. The House of Representatives was formed by a majority system in a single round. It does not happen where there is a competitive politics.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka do not need any parliament. At one time he made quite an effort to cut down the legislative branch. We remember his battle with the Supreme Council, the dispersal of the functioning parliament and the creation of the artificial two-level National Council.
By the way, does somebody of ordinary people have noticed what they "elected" in the upper house? Council of the Republic is absolutely unnecessary structure for the unitary state: parliaments of two houses are in multinational states, in federations. In Belarus it was done to cover this amorphous, anemic House with an iron pin, in order to establish a triple safety margin for the sole ruler, so that any revolt on the ship of the legislature power will not be possible in principle.
The country's leadership was so zealous in destroying the political competition that we see today an absolutely graveyard scene in domestic politics. It is so horrible that the government itself is scratching its head and think what to do next.
It is more and more difficult to drive people to "elections". People have shown complete indifference. By the way, the merit of the opposition is minimal here: everyman has just waved gave up on this unneeded, empty procedure. But in any case the result is unfortunate for the authorities.
I think that some attempts of a decorative "improvement" of the electoral system are possible. They may turn to the idea of elections by party lists (introduction if the proportional or the mixed system). There are four years ahead and it is possible to play in "progress" in this field, if a dialogue with the European Union to to start up. Although, as the experience of Russia shows, in elections by party-list one can arrange the same play that is completely directed.
"The authorities will try to gain the maximum price for every head"
- The only result of the "parliamentary campaign" was the release of two political prisoners: two of seventeen. And it was done only to prevent the expansion of the EU's sanctions against the official Minsk from the EU. Will it save something?
- The release of two political prisoners, of course, is insufficient step to unlock the relationship with the EU. But this is only a try ball of Lukashenka.
Firstly, the Belarusian leadership is in a hurry until October 15, when the EU foreign ministers are to meet in Brussels and to discuss the issue of sanctions against the Belarusian regime, in order prepare a pill that could sweeten the bitter experience of the "elections" to the sterile House.
As the EU is hesitant to fight the last Europe's dictatorship, it can be satisfied with the statement that the release of the two prisoners is a positive phenomenon. And, at least, it will not expand sanctions against the regime. There were no mass arrests, brutal public beatings because of the lack of street protests, and the authors of another "elegant victory" are already in the black list.
Europe, in its turn, will not make any sudden movements, and Minsk will try to impose bargaining at retail. Everything is very prudent and cynical: they released two political prisoners, who wrote the petition for clemency. In addition, Sergey Kovalenko could be at large within several months. By the logic of the authorities this kind of political good was "expiring."
The authorities will try to gain the maximum price for every head. They do not want political reforms, and there is one field of play - the trade by political prisoners.
"To preserve sovereignty is the question of political life and death of Lukashenka"
- Ex-candidate Alexander Mikulin has voiced an interesting, but not indisputable idea. The new composition of the House of Representatives does not hint even at a kind of opposition. Belarus steadily moves to the status of the North-Western Territory. The speakers of the both Houses supported an idea of the Russian church leader Chaplin - to unite Russia, Ukraine, Belarus. If this scenario comes true, Lukashenka has the underling, who is happy to take responsibility for the surrender of the independence ...
- As it was said, Belarus has only one politician. Lukashenka did not give the issue of independence (as he understands it: his undivided domination over the country) to none of underlings, to no decorative persons from his environment.
Whatever stupidities may be said by puppets, Lukashenka understands by himself that to preserve sovereignty is the question of his political life and death. Yes, he is also good at playing a record "We are single people" with no reason, but he always rests when he feels that Moscow encroaches on at least a part of his one-man rule.
This struggle has success, because Lukashenka masterfully plays with the great power ambitions of Moscow. He again managed to extort money from the Russian government under the brand name of the Eurasian Integration. Russia gives cheap energy (by the way, cheap gas have already been promised to Belarus for the next year, almost on the current price), loans under the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund so far, puts out billions for the nuclear power plant and so on.
But the Kremlin, as you know, has nor fools nor altruists. Minsk can meet with unpleasant things, and the first symptoms have already shown themselves.
However, the Belarusian leadership acts in the integration games in accordance with the scheme of Nasreddin Hodja: to promise anything, and than either the king will die or the donkey will fall. Expectations are that Moscow will not have a strength and resources to succeed in its pressure on Belarus, or a change in elites will happen, and the project of the Eurasian Integration will never come to fruition - to the recreation of the neo-imperial space.
Meanwhile, they can milk Russia little by little. Minsk continues to talently pursue this policy with varying success while sacrificing some little things.
"Lukashenko considers a return to the geopolitical swing"
- But Moscow has blocked the flow of freebie "solvents-diluents" (and it does not prevent Minsk from doing this business further), and has cut the supply of oil by 26%. The Kremlin pressures on Minsk economically while recognizing the parliamentary campaign in Belarus as democratic . I'm afraid I seem paranoid, but maybe an option of turning the country into the North-Western Territory is not that absurd?
Indeed, in recent months, Moscow has started to press a bit. Minsk and Moscow moved idyll to the stage of fighting bulldogs under the carpet: they do not want to return to the bosom of informational and economic wars, but the tension is rising.
And it is possible that Lukashenka will have to return to a policy of the geopolitical swing. To be the governor of the Northwest Territory - this variant does not heat. Lukashenka understands that no matter what position Moscow has chosen, he will be removed from a chessboard as insignificant pawn.
He will resist to the last, although the source of the resistance is melting. It is the deblocking of the Western vector allows him dodging pressure of Moscow.
And the release of political prisoners can be the beginning of this trend.
There is another point that makes Lukashenka to consider a return to the geopolitical balancing. This is a question of modernization. Not everybody have noticed, but at the meeting on September 11 this question has become the leitmotif of the official leader's speech. If such a conservative figure as Lukashenka speaks about the modernization, it means that it was hot for him...
"Russia does not need a classical kind of incorporation as this is too troublesome"
It means that counselors reported him that after five years Belarus will fall out of all markets with its uncompetitive goods. But Russia is not interested in the modernization of Belarus, except the point one with an eye to buy certain enterprises and industries. Let us assume that it can invest in oil refineries, but with the expectation that refineries will become its property.
And why to modernize the rest, why to produce competitors? On the contrary, we see how badly Russia reacts to attempts of creating competitive industries like Chinese cars near Borisov. If the Kremlin allows this, then it will be only in return of the MAZ. It is very unequal exchange.
I think that Lukashenko will have to find common grounds with Europe through not wanting to find them. It would be possible to re-brand the European Dialogue with Belarus on the Modernization by a mutual compromise approach of Minsk and Brussels, so that both the Belarusian authorities and the European Union would save their faces. So that as the result, this initiative would be joined by government officials and experts.
Moreover, Europe is not planting a bomb by the dialogue of modernization, but offers a support so that the country will make a breakthrough in future. Here interests of Belarus and the European Union are identical. Because the united Europe does not need the backward Russian semi-colony on the eastern frontier of the EU.
On the other hand, Russia does not need a classical kind of incorporation as this is too troublesome. And on a global scale it would cause unwanted resonance, and the potential resistance of the Belarusian society should not be disregarded, too. After all, the idea of the independence has deeply rooted in the public consciousness.
Given that unifying referendums within the framework of two authoritarian regimes is just a technical issue, to think that the Belarusian independence can be simply crushed is risky. Russia has triggered the backflash of the resistance not once, and even Lukashenko in times of mutual conflict straightly told Moscow: do you want to get another Chechnya?
I think that the classical incorporation is regarded in the Kremlin as an adventurous variant fraught with a constant headache. And why to incorporate? It is simply enough to pick out all the raisins out of the Belarusian bread, to throw them and say: eat up, you local pensioners, children, all orphans and cripples... And raisins are attractive assets.
The strategy of the Kremlin is to take all the pieces of property on the sly, suck out all the juices and make a kind of a semi-colony with soviet attributes of a pseudo-sovereignty.
"Inner showdowns alienate the opposition from people even more"
- While the country is in a risky position, the Belarusian opposition is engaged in infighting instead of the real struggle for power, instead of a real fight against the regime, which even very old people are fed up with. The main question is: who is right and who is wrong - boycotters or participants of the so-called 'elections'? And no one really asks the vital question: what is next?
- Unfortunately, the Belarusian opposition is enthusiastically sawing sawdust in the words of Dale Carnegie. It is chewing something that should be spited out long time ago. We should go forward and to think about the strategy for 2015 [it is planned that the presidential election will be held in 2015]
But there is no political will for unity: the mutual dislike is very deep. It is unclear what the strategy-2015 should be based on. Therefore, the flag of the informational campaign has been risen: they will explain that there is no elections in Belarus with a help of flyers and social networks.
It is impossible to attract a stranger by leaflets - their value is close to a value of waste paper. An advanced audience are already in social networks - there is no need to chew over truisms - these people are already persuaded.
Among other things, the refrain "there are no elections in Belarus and will not be under these authorities" only strengthens fatalism, apathy, lack of confidence. De facto, this is the strategy of a demobilization. None of self-respecting political parties will not risk to boycott the future presidential election. This is the most stupid thing one can think of. The presidential election is a real chance to fight for power even within this authoritarian system.
But how one can shift from the rhetoric of the demobilization to the mobilization? I find it hard to imagine how the same people who called to go on a fishing trip on September 23, in short, to give up on the"elections" and to go in absenteeism, will gather people on the Square, will call on the self-sacrifice and the decisive struggle? One does not fit with the other, and there is very big question: will people go behind them?..
Speaking of strategy, it is difficult to offer a miraculous recipe. Perhaps it does not exist today, perhaps, the strategy can only work at the confluence of circumstances: the deterioration of economic conditions, external pressures, and the breach of the social contract with the people by the authorities. Finally, the strategy is the willingness of the opposition to rapidly straddle the situation when the crucial moment comes.
In principle, a pure kind of revolution does not fit with Belarus for several reasons. It is more likely that the combination of electoral forms of political struggle might work with the pressure of the street. When crowds of many thousands are on the street to frighten nomenclature, then they start to count votes, and security forces behave differently. A split of nomenclature becomes real and according to unanimous statements of political scientists, it is impossible to throw down a hard authoritarian regime, no matter how much tricks an opposition uses and how much slogans it invents.
We need a politics of the art of what is possible, we need a delicate and hard work of brains and of political will for the consolidation. This set of conditions in the camp of the Belarusian opposition is not clearly visible so far.
- So, was Valery Frolov right saying that the Belarusian opposition needs a cleaner?
- On internet forums one can read radical slogans like "the opposition should disband itself," there are proposals to create a government in exile, a people's parliament, to hold the All-Belarusian Congress, that is, to start with a clean slate. This shows that new ideas and new organizational forms are really needed.
And there is no way to illuminate the current opposition. The regime is trying to squeeze it out of the country, and the number of the regime's opponents is only growing abroad. They cheer for Belarus, but at the same time some of them detach themselves from reality, fall into the temptation of simple radical schemes. It is better to discard the dreams that Europe will arrange pandemonium economic hell and the regime will fall down. There will be no economic blockade and no NATO troops here. The situation needs to be changed from the inside.
The opposition should stop discussing that what is interesting only for itself. It needs to speak in the language of people and to show them where the opposition is better than the current authorities, and what is the way to lead the country to a better life.