The tumultuous events in Belarus and the coup blitzkrieg to overthrow Lukashenka have clearly failed. Militants have disappeared on the streets of the cities, there is no confrontation with law enforcement officers, peaceful protests continue, but they are no longer that poignant. When it all began, the mass character of the protests spoke of a serious rejection of the current regime in society, it seemed that Lukashenka would be swept away, he could no longer resist.
From the current state of affairs inside the country, from the actions of the authorities and the opposition, in relation to the West and Russia, it is clear that the set task of overthrowing Lukashenka has not been achieved, the main forces of the putschists are disorganized and demoralized, retreating and licking their wounds. It is too early to talk about a complete victory, the echoes of the coup will continue to spread throughout the country for some time and excite society, but the regime of the “last dictator of Europe” managed to resist.
What contributed to Lukashenka's victory? There were too many tactical and strategic blunders in the actions of the opposition that led to defeat. Having raised the Belarusian society against the president and for the first time massively brought out into the streets not only its supporters, but also ordinary people displeased with Lukashenka, the opposition was unable to tactically organize the whole process of the putsch. One of the main blunders is the absence of a single headquarters planning and coordinating actions. Calls on social networks from Poland cannot replace clear and well-coordinated work “in the field”, when in a rapidly changing environment it is necessary to respond quickly and make decisions on coordinated crowd actions.
The putschists brought trained militants to the streets, but there were too few of them to break the unexpectedly staunch resistance of law enforcement officers. The well-trained tactics of law enforcement officers can only be resisted by well-trained detachments of militants, which are skillfully led by the headquarters and field commanders, moreover, law enforcement officers skillfully identified the instigators and neutralized them without ceremony.
The opposition did not announce the strategic goal of its actions, the main slogan (“Go away”) set the immediate tactical task, but what to do next, the bulk of the protesters did not understand. It is ridiculous to assert that the “cook” Tihanovskaya, who accidentally got into the political Olympus, could be a worthy replacement for Lukashenka. The absence of charismatic protest leaders and contenders for the "throne" eroded the purpose of the putsch. The promise to hold elections "later" only disoriented the supporters and spoke of the opposition's lack of a worthy leader.
The opposition did not put forward any political program for the massive attraction to its side of all those dissatisfied with the incumbent president. All protests were held under the slogan of removing Lukashenka from power, as if it was supposed to solve all political, ideological and economic problems. Such actions had their own logic: without revealing the political program, the opposition attracted to its side a lot of people who, for various reasons, wanted to eliminate Lukashenka, considering him the main evil, and did not really think about what to do next.
A huge failure of the opposition was the announcement of its program after the failure of the active phase of the putsch, which shocked many of its supporters and alienated them. The program is well known. Not the main areas: the severance of all relations with Russia, the proclamation of "Lithuanianism" as a state ideology and entry into NATO and the EU. The Belarusian society does not accept these postulates. And such a program could only be voiced by a round idiot, most likely from Poland. When it appeared, everyone wrote that it was a provocation, but the opposition headquarters signed up to it and thereby put an end to their victory over Lukashenka.
From the very beginning it was clear that the opposition was acting precisely according to this program, but they had to voice it only after the victory, when there would be no turning back. Too weak and short-sighted political strategists ended up with the opposition, the hand of Western curators, far from the realities of today's Belarus, was felt. Lukashenko immediately took advantage of this blunder and told in detail what such a program would lead to, citing the example of Ukraine as proof.
Strikes, collapse of Lukashenka's team
After the authorities suppressed the active phase of the putsch, the opposition tried to implement the idea of a general strike in order to paralyze the country's economy and state institutions. It could have been worse than the militants, Lukashenka could hardly have resisted then. This goal was not realized, the strikes advertised in social networks at leading enterprises turned out to be a bluff, the strike committees formed at some enterprises were unable to rouse workers to strikes, and where they began partially, the administration managed to quickly agree, and the strike movement died out in the bud.
The opposition's transition to peaceful marches and rallies was a gift for the current regime, it immediately stopped their violent suppression, apologized for the unlawful use of force in some cases and began to selectively extinguish provocations at checkpoints and on the territory of enterprises. The authorities opposed the peaceful marches of the opposition with the peaceful marches of their supporters in different cities of the country, which gradually expanded and took on a mass character.
Attempts to split Lukashenka's entourage and persuade part of him to betray were also unsuccessful. Only a few ambassadors declared their support for the opposition, and that was all. Lukashenka's team turned out to be unexpectedly cohesive, as they understood that their power rests on the power of the president and in the event of his overthrow they will face an unenviable fate. Most importantly, the siloviki turned out to be loyal to the president; without their support, Lukashenka would have been overthrown at the initial stage of the coup.
As always, part of the creative and scientific intelligentsia began to go over to the side of the protesters - they began to write appeals to the people about the need to replace the "bloody regime". The corrupt media elite also quickly jumped in, its individual representatives on Belarusian radio and television began to publicly resign with harsh statements about the authorities. All these actions were not supported by either their associates or society, and when the authorities began to show their strength, this flow sharply decreased.
The position of the West and Russia played a decisive role in resolving the Belarusian crisis. The West did not have a unified position, as it did on Ukraine in 2014, this time it did not have the same international situation, the leading Western countries have a lot of their own problems, they now have no time to create a united front against Russia.
The reaction of the West
The initiators and instigators of the putsch in Belarus were the European limitrophes Poland and Lithuania, who imagined themselves to be the arbiters of the destinies of the Belarusian people and had long been preparing a putsch using the proven technology of “color revolutions” with the aim of separating Belarus from Russia, weakening it and seizing the Belarusian industry and markets. The non-recognition of the elections was just a pretext for starting the process of demolishing the Lukashenka regime, on which the integration processes with Russia were based.
These two limitrophes had their own views of the Belarusian territory and were preparing a putsch not in the interests of the European Union, but with the aim of tearing apart Belarus and strengthening their economic and political positions on the European continent. From next year Poland will be deprived of the financial support of the European Union, it needs markets for its products in Belarus, as well as the opportunity to get its hands on the savory pieces of the Belarusian industry. In addition, Greater Poland's ambition and naive dreams of the revival of the Commonwealth from "sea to sea" with the goal of becoming the head of the "Eastern European Union" with the inclusion of the Baltic states, Ukraine and Belarus, prevailed there. They do not forget about the creation of the "Baltic-Black Sea corridor" separating Russia from Europe. Lithuania, in turn, seeks to prevent the revival of Poland, supports Lukashenka's policy of "Lithuanianism" aimed at recognizing the Belarusians as one nation with the Lithuanians, denying Russian roots. Moreover, Lithuania itself is not averse to swallowing up a weakened Belarus.
The leading European powers - Germany and France - took a completely different position. They were not averse to weakening Russia, their main competitor in Europe, by separating Belarus from it, but at the same time they absolutely did not need another conflict, similar to the Ukrainian one. They pursued a balanced policy, recognized the elections as unfair and did not intervene in this crisis, saying that they did not want a repeat of the Ukrainian scenario. They blocked an insolent attempt by Poland and Lithuania to pass through the European Union a decision on recognizing Tikhanovskaya as elected president, did not allow the introduction of financial sanctions against Belarus, limiting themselves only to personal sanctions against members of Lukashenko's team. The USA in general slightly chided Lukashenka for using force and did not take any action against him.
The balanced position of Russia played an important role in resolving the crisis. Over the past six months, Lukashenka has said a lot of things that are unpleasant about Russia and the union treaty, and the Russian leadership had something to ask him for, but not emotions prevailed, but sober calculations. With the fall of Lukashenka, Belarus definitely went to the West, there was no one to replace him, the union agreement could be forgotten. No matter how bad he was, he should have been kept in his chair at least for a while. Putin was one of the first to congratulate Lukashenko on his re-election and thereby recognized his legitimacy, showing the West that he would not abandon Lukashenko.
In the West, the signal was understood, Germany, France and the leadership of the European Union regarding the resolution of the Belarusian crisis began to call not Lukashenko, who refused to answer Merkel's calls, but Putin, because they understood perfectly well that the key to resolving the crisis was in the hands of the Russian president. Putin clearly said that the crisis is an internal affair of Belarus and no one from the outside should interfere. It should also not be forgotten that Germany is vitally not interested in strengthening the European vassal of the United States of Poland at the expense of Belarus and is striving not to support Polish initiatives.
After a telephone conversation with Lukashenko on August 16, the Kremlin's website said to those who especially doubt the Russian position to stand to the end:
“The discussion of the situation in Belarus after the presidential elections was continued, including taking into account the pressure exerted on the republic from outside. The Russian side reaffirmed its readiness to provide the necessary assistance in resolving the problems that have arisen on the basis of the principles of the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State, as well as, if necessary, through the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
This hint was also understood, on August 18 the head of the Pentagon called Shoigu and they "discussed the situation in the world." On the same day, a Tu-214 VPU of the special flight unit "Russia" landed at the Minsk airport with some unannounced mission, and the process of resolving the crisis proceeded in a more constructive manner. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, regularly calls up with Putin and, apparently, links his actions to settle the Belarusian crisis with him.
At the same time, a broad campaign against Lukashenka was and is being conducted in the Russian media space, the instigators in which are immigrants from Belarus: the so-called expert Bolkunets and the representative of the Higher School of Economics, political scientist Suzdaltsev, both long-standing opponents of Lukashenka. Without being embarrassed in expressions and not particularly bothering themselves with proofs, playing up to Gazprom, which took offense at Lukashenka, they prove the need to immediately remove him from power and start negotiations with the opposition, which are known to what will lead. Also working against Lukashenka is the owner of the Russian "Uralchem", a native of Belarus with a promising surname Mazepin, investing not in the development of Russia, but in the construction of port terminals in Latvia. He would very much like to cover up or take over Belaruskali and become a monopoly on the fertilizer market, while Lukashenka is on his way.
Having received the support of Russia and the West, Lukashenko went on the offensive, began speaking at rallies in front of the people, going to factories and talking with workers. He showed his fighting character and did not back down, saying that he "can only be killed." He also began to tighten the screws with the leaders of the putschists, the Prosecutor General opened criminal cases against members of the Coordination Council under the article "High treason", whose activities are aimed at seizing state power. Some members of the "council" got lost in thought and began to leave this unconstitutional formation.
The combination of internal and external factors and Lukashenka's resilience allowed him to retain power in a critical situation, while it became clear that a significant part of society did not support him. He has lost the confidence of the people and is unlikely to restore it. He was not forgiven for miscalculations and rumblings between Russia and the West, the people were tired of his authoritarian rule, when only one person decides all issues in the state. In one of the fragments of the Soviet Union, he preserved his best conquests and the principles of social protection of the population, but he was unable to develop the system further and had to leave.
Temporary measure to stabilize the situation: he must remain in power for now. They probably already explained to him that he has only one way out - close integration with Russia and the transfer of power to the pro-Russian successors. This process has already begun, Lukashenka announced the start of political reform and the adoption of a new constitution, after which elections will be held. Under his leadership, preparations for the transfer of power should begin, the purge of the pro-Western elite and NGOs, the formation of an elite oriented towards Russia and the nomination of new leaders.
The political system of Belarus should become more open, with real political parties and sane opposition, with the state ideology of historical Russian unity instead of the ideas of "Lithuanianism", with more efficient state management of industry and real integration into the Russian economy.
Russia, one of the parties to the union treaty, can develop the idea of integrating historically related peoples and restoring Russian identity in the Belarusian society. There is a need for an open dialogue with the Belarusian society and especially with the younger generation, explaining the advantages of integration with Russia and the collapse of Belarus when going to the West.
The tragic Belarusian events have an important plus: for Lukashenka the road to the West is closed, circumstances force him to promote the Russian direction, and for Russia, keeping Belarus in the sphere of Russian interests is part of the strategy of ensuring its security from the western direction. The interests of the parties coincide and there is a possibility of gradual integration of Belarus into Russia on mutually beneficial terms.