Updated at 11:09,11-12-2017

Gazeta Wyborcza: Today's weakness of Russia gives new chance to Belarus

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Resistance of Ukrainians to Russian aggression forbids Putin to liquidate Belarus.

It is written by a journalist Andzrej Poczobut in "Gazeta Wyborcza", ZN.ua informs.

He offers results of a research, according to which 62% of Belarusians believe the Crimea is a part of Russia, 47% support independence of the so-called Novorossia, and 51% are in favour of Belarus integration with Russia, not with the EU. The author stresses growing pro-Russian sentiments in Belarus, which had not been observed before. As said by him, a new pro-Russian majority has emerged in the country. On the one hand, this phenomenon is related to Russian propaganda. And on the other hand the state policy of Alyaksandr Lukashenka over the last two decades have contributed to that. once he said that Belarusians are Russians, just better ones. And this message summarizes his pro-Russian policy from the first days in the position of the leader of the state. The Belarusian leader has always been seeing the national culture and originality of his people as an enemy. He discarded the national symbols and the single national language, and granted an official status to Russian. By doing so, he placed Belarusians into a Russian cultural ghetto. According to statistics, even in schools Russian language is prevalent, only every tenth schoolchild goes to Belarusian schools, while only 300 children attend Belarusian-medium schools.

Thus, Lukashenka has become a hostage of his own anti-Belarusian policy, Andrzej Poczobut writes. He is concerned by the cultural, economic and political expansion of the neighbouring country. He agreed to a total economic dependence on Russia for the sake of guarantees of his authoritarian regimes stability. Lukashenka had been fighting against the Belarusian national identity, replacing it by the Soviet legacy and Russian language. In this way, he has built a lesser, alternative Russia in Belarus. an average Russian does not feel abroad in Belarus. Everyone speaks Russian, listens to Russian music, while Russian channels are broadcast on TV.

If Vladimir Putin had been able to realize all his plans in Ukraine, if after the liberation march in the Crimea the same march would have taken place in Donbas, and a pro-Russian anti-Maidan had toppled the government in Kyiv, and a new pro-Russian politician had headed Ukraine, the Russian nationalism would want more from the Kremlin. Then Moscows project of the Eurasian Union would have turned into a new Soviet Union. And Belarus, with its pro-Russian and pro-Putin sentiments, would become defenceless against this threat.

But the author notes that Ukraine put up resistance. Pro-Russian militants together with the Russian army were unable to occupy even Luhansk and Donetsk regions completely. Moscow is plunged into an economic crisis, and cannot afford conflicts with other neighbours. In this way, Belarusian independence was protected.

The author reminds that the Kremlin had always been questioning Belarusian sovereignty in hard times. The previous time it happened in 1918, when Russians liquidated the national Belarusian state by force, making it a part of the Soviet Union. And modern Belarus emerged after the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Today Russias weakness gives a new chance for Belarus to break away from Russias dominance. The only question is, whether Belarus, or rather its elites, would be able to use it, the article reads.