The fifth wheel in the wagon of the Customs Union

As the integration processes unfolded in the post-Soviet space in the form of a first amorphous EurAsEC, then a more specific Customs Union, as well as the foundations of the Common Economic Space, followed by the creation of a Eurasian Union, Kazakhstan will understand that this will be a “tango three . We are so accustomed to dealing with these decades in the first place with Russia and were tied (besides the high global geopolitics) to the affairs of Central Asia, that for us it was some surprise that we also had to enter into formalized institutional relations with Belarus.

Of course, over the 20 years of the existence of the CIS, we are used to signing with Minsk a lot of unimportant documents. Now everything is different: for several years now, there has been a rigid coordination of tariffs, expert discussions and diplomatic debates around each comma and columns in the product line have flared up. The time of empty declarations is gone, the time of practical commerce comes.

In such new conditions, it is quite natural to ask the question that we should ask ourselves: what do we know about the real Belarus? In search of an answer, we will encounter two types of stereotypes. The first one is also of Soviet origin: these are forests, partisans, the Brest Fortress, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, “Pesnyary”, and all this together is a benevolent, hard-working and affable Belarusian people. The second type of stereotypes is associated with the post-Soviet era: the last bastion of socialism; cleanliness and (soviet) order; Soviet quality of goods (simply, but soundly); strict but fair Old Man (A. Lukashenko); and finally - a small but true (to Russia) Belarus in the hostile environment of NATO and the "traitors" from yesterday’s socialist camp.

As you get more objective and detailed acquaintance with modern Belarus, you begin to understand that all these stereotypes, both old and fresh, have little in common with reality, although many still guess. In the near future we will have to enter into close and much-binding intergovernmental relations with a country whose international position is radically different from Kazakhstan’s and which, most likely, will be soon awaited by deep upheavals and revolutionary changes in both socio-economic and political life and in foreign policy position

Our partner, the Republic of Belarus, is located on the extreme western tip of the CIS, is geographically and historically little connected with Central Asia and, from the point of view of the state model, is a rather specific post-Soviet state. Nevertheless, it is an important partner of Kazakhstan in many ways. Belarus is a member of almost all the formations and integration units in the post-Soviet space, in which Kazakhstan - the CIS, EurAsEC, CSTO, the Customs Union, the CES, the Eurasian Union and the SCO as a partner participate. Like Kazakhstan, Belarus has special relations with Russia, with which it is a member of the Union State.

The Republic of Belarus is also of major strategic importance for the defense of Russia, the security of the CSTO member states, the provision of air defense and missile defense and in general for the military-political stability of the CIS. In fact, Belarus represents the most western outpost of the Commonwealth, directly in contact with the North Atlantic Alliance. The Belarusian military-industrial complex remains an important component of the military-technical power of the CSTO.

An important factor is that Belarus also has an advantageous geographical position, being a transport and logistics hub of the CIS countries and their gateway to the European Union. Pipelines exporting hydrocarbons, including Central Asian, to the EU pass through the territory of the republic. The need to participate in the integration processes and interaction with the Russian Federation actually make the Republic of Kazakhstan and Belarus allies with many coinciding interests.

Economy in Belarusian

The Belarusian economic model repeats in a concentrated form many features of the economies of other post-Soviet republics and some socialist countries, which over time have lost. But the Belarusian economy remained in the form of a conglomerate of the remnants of post-Soviet socialism in the form of a monopolistic public sector, administration of enterprises of all forms of ownership and completely market structures of the Belarusian business under the control of the president, as well as individual sectors of the economy that have privileged conditions. It was in this environment that the Belarusian oligarchy was formed in Belarus over the past five years. In Belarus, economic modernization is of an enclave nature. Not a single truly large enterprise has yet been transferred to private hands.

For a long time, the Belarusian economic model (from the middle of 1990) operated on the basis of four main principles: the monopolistic importance of the public sector in the real economy (industrial assets, enterprises in the agricultural sector); unconditional and practically unlimited in scale supply of energy resources and raw materials from Russia to the republic at extremely low prices; unhindered access of Belarusian goods to the Russian market; the most closed Belarusian market.

These principles could be supported by a long-term political game with Russia in various forms of economic and political integration, which provided the Republic of Belarus with energy subsidies and subsidies. The total amount of subsidies, subsidies, loans, economic benefits from the sale of petroleum products derived from Russian oil, reduction of economic costs from cheap natural gas from the Russian Federation, access to Russian technologies, etc. have reached at least 17 billion over the past 60 years.

Receiving every year solid preferences and subsidies, the Belarusian leadership did not use them to change the structure of the Belarusian economy, modernize it, and integrate the national economy into the global one. The republic has so far preserved the archaic type of foreign trade. The EU markets from the Republic of Belarus mainly receive refined products from Russian oil and potash fertilizers.

Naturally, that could not last forever. In February, 2011, the republic was struck by a structural economic crisis. The 2011 crisis of the year began with the currency phase: within a few days, a freely convertible currency from banks and exchange offices (offices) completely disappeared. Its deficit warmed up the illegal “black” foreign exchange market, where the US dollar, euro and Russian ruble rates began to grow rapidly. In just a few days, inflation was dispersed. The population, expecting an undoubted devaluation of the Belarusian ruble, tried to save their money savings by buying currency, which ended very quickly in exchange offices. In the conditions of panic, people, trying to get rid of the Belarusian ruble, rushed to buy food, consumer goods, any imported goods. Began consumer hype. The authorities, unable to return the currency to the exchange offices, opposed the crisis with propaganda statements that the people themselves were to blame for what was happening.

Prices for food and consumer goods for April-May 2011 year rose to 200 percent. At 40 percent gasoline went up in price. Unemployment was about 1,5 million out of 4,6 million able-bodied population. Trying to change the situation, the President of the Republic A. Lukashenko in the middle of November 2011, once again ordered the government to stop the rise in prices. The result was inflation, which reached 10 percent over the 2011 months of the 89 year, a three-fold increase in the dollar rate, and real incomes of the population fell by 30 percent. During 2012, the Belarusian economy remained in a difficult state, as evidenced by the highest inflation in the CIS (more than 100 percent), an increase in 3,8 times in 2011 a year of public debt (about 17 billion dollars or more deep negative foreign trade balance (50 billion dollars).

The Belarusian authorities do not have any resources to solve economic problems. Despite the fact that the economy of the republic remains in the system of Russian energy subsidies and subsidies, the Russian market is open for goods from Belarus, Belarusian petrochemical enterprises continue to work actively and supply oil products to foreign markets, the currency entering the country does not solve the problem of currency deficit and increase gold reserves of the republic.

Many experts say that the economic system created by Lukashenka, built on administrative-command methods, has completely exhausted its potential, and it will not be possible to squeeze something out of it without changes. In fact, the government is forced to introduce market mechanisms and reduce social support. All of the above suggests that Belarus is facing new problems, and the situation is pushing the authorities towards privatization. While the process of folding social support is in its initial stage. Its consequences will be affected later.

Props and weak points of the political regime

It is impossible to consider the economic model of Belarus without a political regime created by Alexander Lukashenko for almost two decades of his rule. The political regime that emerged under A. Lukashenko is called by some experts “authoritarianism without an oligarchy,” that is, a peculiar Belarusian challenge not only to the democratic West, but also to Russia. That is, the Belarusian oligarchy that has emerged in recent years is extremely corrupt in its nature and is entirely due to its existence and its capital to the Belarusian president. According to informed experts, the basis of the financial well-being of the Belarusian oligarchy is the resale of subsidized Russian energy resources.

Directors of Belarusian enterprises are in the stage of partial readiness to seize enterprises that are managed and partially in fact already owned. They are in favor of nomenclature privatization, since the directors office cannot really gain access to industrial assets through tenders and auctions due to the lack of sufficient financial resources. The privatization of Belarusian assets by foreign investors, primarily Russian, cuts off the directors of enterprises from their own, as it seems to them, “property”. In addition, they feel quite comfortable in the conditions of the Belarusian economic model.

The security agencies, which, under the conditions of an authoritarian regime, acquired unprecedented opportunities and political influence, are not interested in structural economic reforms, since they can undermine the basis of A. Lukashenko’s power. Within the framework of the Belarusian economic model, law enforcement agencies are able to actually control certain sectors of the Belarusian economy and economic infrastructure (banking, customs, etc.), which makes them directly interested in maintaining the economic status quo.

Rural kolkhoz-sovkhoz "aristocracy" (the management of state farms and other agricultural production structures, producers of agricultural equipment, agricultural infrastructure) is a powerful support group for A. Lukashenko and at the same time an ardent opponent of any changes in the existing socio-economic and political structure of the republic.

It is believed that in the republic there are several elite groups that compete and at the same time cooperate with each other in order to survive and preserve the existing system. The most attention is drawn to the rapidly gaining strength of the group of Viktor Lukashenko. The eldest son of the Belarusian president, being his security adviser, by 2011 year concentrated under his control all the security forces of the republic, and also - in part - the Belarusian army. He introduced to the leadership of law enforcement agencies people from the Mogilev region, who were personally obligated to him for moving up the career ladder. But the main personnel reserve for him were the border troops of the republic, where he once served.

Among the oldest nomenklatura groups, it is necessary to include the group of Mikhail Myasnikovich, the specificity of which is that, despite its colorful composition, it has always been “based” in Minsk. A. Lukashenko, having come to power, intuitively felt the danger from the old, still, in fact, the Soviet nomenclature. He tried as quickly as possible to eliminate the influence of regional groups, strengthening his team by immigrants from the Mogilev region. However, it was not possible to create a Mogilev group of A. Lukashenko, for a number of objective and subjective reasons. The people who came to power with him, in most cases, were not ready for full activity in government posts.

Having appointed M. Myasnikovich to the post of head of government after the December election of 2010, A. Lukashenko apparently took into account that he was, by tradition, considered to be a person with broad connections in Moscow. Perhaps, appointing M. Myasnikovich to the post of prime minister, A. Lukashenko wanted to give a sign to the Russian leadership about his readiness to fulfill the December agreements with President D. Medvedev on the full participation of the republic in the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space.

Under the existing conditions, the presence of the so-called pro-Western group in the Belarusian leadership is a logical stage in the development of the republic’s political class. It is believed that the leader of this group is Vladimir Makei, the leader of this group. A peculiar team of top officials of the republic rallied around him, which are united by tough rejection of the “eastern vector” and orientation to the West. Among them is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus S. Martynov.

The main task of the “pro-Western group” is to incorporate the current regime into the Western world with minimal decorative democratic transformations, designed to remove the stigma of “Europe’s last dictator” from A. Lukashenko. It was the “pro-Western group” that stimulated the expansion of contacts between Minsk and Brussels in 2009 – 2010. The “pro-Western group” is organizing quite traditional political campaigns, on the one hand, to convince the Russian leadership that Belarus, disillusioned with Russia's unwillingness to expand subsidies for its economy, is ready to “go to the West”, on the other - at times when pressure Moscow is getting stronger, to draw the attention of the West to the “threat to Belarusian sovereignty” from the Russian side.

The weaknesses of his regime clearly emerged during the 2011 – 2012 crisis. In fact, A. Lukashenko failed to clearly articulate the meaning of the country's existence for the future and did not prepare a replacement for himself either as a person who shares his views on government policies, or as a system capable of ensuring at least a stable existence of the country at the present standard of living in the near future ( for example, a generation ahead). Instead, Lukashenka locked all the levers of governing the country over himself and, at the very first visible manifestations of the crisis, began with attempts to stop them, and not to seek solutions.

The internal political crisis in Belarus began on December 19 of 2010, and is entirely related to the consequences of the next presidential election. The crisis manifested itself in the physical elimination of the traditional Belarusian opposition from the political arena, the isolation of the president of the republic in the domestic and foreign arena, the threat of political destabilization as a result of terrorist acts and the manifestation of a new, rapidly gaining strength player - a non-systemic protest movement.

The structural reorganization of the political system of the Republic of Belarus is aimed at preserving the power prerogatives in the hands of the president and strengthening the central administrative apparatus. Prospects for diversifying participation in public administration remain blocked, even for quite loyal representatives of regional elites. The project to create a “party of power” on the basis of the public association “Belaya Rus”, as well as proposals for the reform of the electoral system, did not receive government support. The dominance of centralized administrative control is also maintained in the economic sphere, since the liberalization of the financial market takes place against the backdrop of foreign loans and various assistance, and the privatization that has begun is a point character.

In the conditions of economic and political crisis, the influence of the opposition will continue to fall. She is gradually marginalized and turns into a community of dissidents, which in the future could turn into a serious problem for the authorities. The fact is that the legal existence of the opposition provides the leadership of the republic with legitimacy in regular elections and recognition of the world community.

To this end, on the one hand, the leadership of the republic is trying to put under its control all significant figures in the elites, who in the long run are able to compete with A. Lukashenko in the political arena. On the other hand, there is a search for leaders capable of creating opposition structures under the control of the authorities. Their very existence provides the authorities with a certain legitimacy. However, the majority of elite groups in an authoritarian regime are markedly pro-governmental in nature.

The first oligarchs emerged in the field of trade weapons in the foreign market before A. Lukashenko came to power. At present, almost all more or less profitable industries in the republic have long been under the control of various privileged groups, who are just waiting for the opportunity to officially privatize them in their own interests. So far, the main defender of this order is the Belarusian president, who strongly opposes real privatization. As a result of the economic crisis of 2011, the influence in the oligarchic environment of A. Lukashenko began to fall rapidly. The Belarusian president was unable to fulfill his main functions, demanded by the holders of large states, to ensure the functioning of the economic model and guarantee the safety of accumulated wealth.

With a quality mark

Belarus has rightfully been considered the most “non-nationalist” republic in the post-Soviet space for a long time, and Belarusians the most tolerant people in a friendly Soviet family. However, the objective imperatives arising during the construction of a national state (namely, this happened in all the former republics of the USSR, and Belarus is no exception), inevitably trigger the mechanism of nationalism propagation as part of state-building. Only the forms and degree of nationalism differ. The closest neighbor, Ukraine, has shown extreme forms of such nationalism, Belarus is soft, but nonetheless the phenomenon of Belarusian nationalism exists.

Once A. Lukashenko declared that “Belarusians are Russians with a quality mark”. You can consider this phrase as a form of manifestation of patriotic pride, and you can, as a reservation by Freud - an unconscious manifestation of that very nationalism. Look at this phenomenon.

The identity of modern Belarus was shaped according to the model of a civil nation, somewhat similar to the model of the Soviet people, which turned out to be quite viable in a much smaller and practically mono-ethnic country. Belarusians are very close to Russians ethnically and culturally. The overwhelming majority of the population speaks Russian at work and at home, and the share of Russian speakers has noticeably increased during the years of independence.

After the appearance of a number of independent states on the splinters of the Soviet Union, the active work of local ideologists began to create a historical basis for the sovereignty obtained. Not bypassed these processes by the side and Belarus. The most powerful group that accumulated new demands was the Belarusian Popular Front, which was a symbol of opposition to the Soviet system.

Here one should pay attention to such a phenomenon as “Belarusian-morphism”, that is, giving the Belarusian normative features to people who are not directly connected with participation in the Belarusian national project. As a result, these individuals are perceived as Belarusians or acting from the point of view of benefits for Belarusians. It is also characteristic of defining state formations (for example, “the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is a medieval Belarusian state”), and for defining political events (for example, “the Belarusians reassured by force a revolt in Zhmudi and Aukshaytiya”). Thus, a certain Belarusian reality is being constructed, which from the pages of textbooks and scientific literature reaches the final consumer in the form of an externally scientific, but essentially ideological product, creating an idea of ​​the Belarusian subjectivity in stories.

During the construction of the Belarusian national state, a method such as quasi-self-identification is used - that is, endowing one's ancestors with the features and self-awareness of the current community. Thus, Russia's refusal to provide cheap energy to the Belarusian side caused a flurry of anti-Russian rhetoric, in which it was sometimes argued that this is an eternal problem in Belarusian-Russian relations, and Russia is permanently an empire seeking to colonize Belarus.

Another method is the so-called crypto-revisionism. This is a hidden, implicit revision of historical events, in which the outsider has the impression that there is no revision. For example, referring to the joint struggle against Nazism, some Belarusian experts gradually begin to assert that the history of the war is not very objectively presented, that the role of the Belarusian people in victory is obscured. Crypto-revisionism gradually penetrates everywhere, emphasizing the main role of the Belarusians in the victory over Germany and keeping silent about everyone else.

During the post-Soviet period, the desire of the ruling circles of the country to assert Belarusian identity through the directed suppression of other variants of self-identification of the population became increasingly active. It manifested itself not only at the level of public rhetoric, but also through the adoption of practical measures to narrow the space of the Russian language.

But there is a movement from the other side. According to experts, now in Belarus in the conditions of socio-political and economic crisis there are all prerequisites for the formation of a new state ideology based on "modern Western Russianism." His main theses are as follows: Belarusians are an original part of a large Russian ethnos; with real bilingualism, both the Belarusian language and culture can develop; Belarus needs to be built as one of the Russian states, which, while maintaining its sovereignty, will naturally integrate with two other Russian states - Ukraine and Russia; only in the bosom of Russian civilization is the true sovereignty of Belarus possible.

Obviously, this is an idealistic program, but in some circumstances it can be launched into action to justify broad integration with Russia. What does the statistics say? The results of the polls show that during the years of independence, not only Soviet self-identification has decreased, but also the desire to return it. Sociological polls show that about two thirds of the respondents are in favor of the sovereignty of Belarus, despite the fact that until the middle of the zero years, approximately one in two was in favor of integration with Russia. This indicates that both independence and integration are perceived as contradictory.

Numerous polls and studies show that Belarus is not two societies, “pro-European” and “pro-Russian”. There is an obvious correlation of geopolitical choice with age, education, involvement in the Internet. Young people, educated Internet users to a much greater degree than the population on average, tend to give preference to Europe.

It is symptomatic that the official policy of building national identity appeals to the “Polotsk core” of the Belarusian ethnos, which historically was formed on the territory of the present Vitebsk region (Lithuanian border area), but then lost its leading position. Thus, a characteristic feature of the social base of the modern regime headed by Lukashenko is the orientation towards the western segment of the Belarusian political space, which objectively represents a minority of the population.

In the arms of the Union State

The economic and political proximity of Belarus and Russia is institutionalized, no other country in the world is in such a large number of associations with the participation of Russia, the main of which is the Union State. In the world community, Belarus for Russia has long been the only trusted partner and the most reliable ally. The agreement on the establishment of the Union of Belarus and Russia 1997 of the year was, at first glance, a solid basis for relations between the two countries, but there are also serious contradictions.

In the 2000-s in the Russian-Belarusian relations, a number of serious problems arose, casting doubt on the effectiveness of bilateral integration processes. Difficulties in the development of dialogue were caused, in particular, by Russia's refusal from unconditional subsidies and the transfer of relations to a pragmatic basis. The Belarusian leadership took this new course with undisguised irritation and even threatened to suspend participation in multilateral associations (CSTO, Customs Union).

The confrontation between Minsk and Moscow reached the highest degree on the eve of the presidential election of 2010 in Belarus. 2011 year passed under the sign of the next thaw in the Belarusian-Russian relations.

According to some Russian analysts, the only reason why A. Lukashenko agreed to the project of the Union State was an adventurous desire to join the Russian political leadership and change B. Yeltsin. The construction of the Union State (SG) of Belarus and Russia has become protracted. In the legal context, the fundamentals of fundamental disagreements between the two states - Belarus and Russia - on the most important issues of union construction and on many other issues of bilateral relations are laid precisely in the fundamental treaties and agreements on the creation of the NG.

These treaties and agreements are drafted in such a way that in fact there is the possibility of discrepancies, completely different interpretations of the fundamental principles of the creation of the SG. So, not known, as you know, any supranational bodies, whose decisions would be binding. There are also no mechanisms for implementing both the agreements as a whole and the most important components of these agreements, for example, on the introduction of a single currency, on the adoption of the Basic Law of the SG, etc.

At the same time, Belarus retains its important military and strategic importance for Russia, but in the categories of the former standoff in Europe. Belarus is the most consistent and active state in the process of military integration within the CSTO. Between the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus there is a so-called coalition approach, that is, the armies of the two states are a symbiosis and an imitation of common forces. This allows you to save on military expenses and optimize the control system. Between the Russian Federation and Belarus concluded over 30 treaties in the military sphere.

Russia, with 2001, has invested in Belarus in the form of preferences for the supply of fuel and raw materials to it about 50 billion dollars, which, apparently, was done taking into account the long-term strategy. In the RB infrastructure, Russia is interested in maintaining control over the two largest refineries - Naftan (Novopolotsk) and Mozyr. Thus, the oil and gas lever remains a powerful instrument of influence of Moscow on Minsk. Belarus is the only country where Gazprom managed to establish full control over the pipeline (Yamal - Europe).

However, it is dangerous for Russia to overreact in its actions with respect to Minsk. The economic losses of Belarus as a result of new conditions of oil and gas supply may be small. Minsk with the help of Ukraine and Azerbaijan can use alternative Russian sources of supply. The possibility of a transit union between Kiev and Minsk is not excluded. In the trade and economic sphere, Minsk can reorient itself to China, which for four years has been claiming to become Belarus’s leading trade and economic partner.

Experts point out that from a political point of view, Belarus is already fully prepared for breaking off allied relations with the Russian Federation. There are no independent pro-Russian political forces in the country; Russia's rating in the eyes of the population is low (10 percent), the idea of ​​Belarus joining the Russian Federation is supported by the entire 3 percent of the population. On the other hand, Moscow has no alternative figure in place of A. Lukashenko and, accordingly, the levers of pressure on the Belarusian president.

The main subjective reason for the inhibition of economic interaction between Russia and Belarus is as follows: the Russian-Belarusian integration association from the very beginning took place in conditions of the prevalence of politics over the economy. The most serious obstacle for Russian-Belarusian economic integration is the differences in the economic mechanisms of Russia and Belarus, formed as a result of different models of reforms, the impossibility of quickly overcoming serious differences in economic models of transition to a market.

It seems that in the near future, the topic of monetary union will again come out. And taking into account the factors of the CU and the EEC, this problem will inevitably affect Kazakhstan. The refusal of Minsk in 2007 to agree on the immediate adoption of the Constitutional Act and the introduction of the Russian ruble as a single means of payment testified to the incompatibility of the views of the ruling elites of the two countries on the scenarios for the development of bilateral integration. This conclusion is quite applicable to Kazakhstan.

Obviously, the Russian policy in relations with Minsk turned out to be unable to separate the pragmatic (energy sphere) approach from the “value” approach (automatic coincidence of the positions of Russia and Belarus). Russia approaches Belarus as a client state, which can sometimes be helped under certain conditions, but which should not have its own profile in international politics.

After the crisis events of 2007 – 2009, observers noticed that the relations between Moscow and Minsk began to move towards the so-called “Ukrainian model”. The basis of this model is the perception of its own independence as independence from Russia, which predetermines a conscious centrifugal geopolitical drift. The country's sovereignty, ideologically and in practice, has become the main instrument for protecting the power of the ruling elite, whose challenge may primarily be Moscow’s integrationist initiatives.

In the grip of the Customs Union

As in Kazakhstan, in Belarus there is no complete public consensus on the benefits of joining the Customs Union and other integration associations. Thus, the right-wing Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), the day after the meeting of the leaders of the three countries belonging to the Customs Union (November 18, 2011 of the year), launched an indefinite campaign against the country's entry into a new integration union. The Belarusian Popular Front is opposed to the participation of Belarus in the Union State with Russia, in EurAsEC, the CSTO and the Customs Union.

It may seem strange to the Kazakh reader, but in Belarus there was an impression (at the level of expert community and public opinion) that only Kazakhstan unconditionally won the creation of the Customs Union: Russian companies allegedly attracted by the liberal tax regime. Belarus states that it is not ready for such competition.

According to a number of Belarusian experts, the Customs Union has not led to a significant increase in Belarusian-Kazakh trade, but the difficulties experienced by both countries push them to a further rapprochement. At the same time, the implementation of the Kremlin project of Eurasian integration can aggravate the rivalry between Minsk and Astana. They note that Russia and Kazakhstan conducted negotiations with the WTO in private, despite the fact that they had previously promised to defend positions common to the customs troika.

Belarusian specialists pay attention to such a phenomenon as “competition of jurisdictions”. That is, as the CU and CES deepens, the bureaucracies of all three countries will have to live in a competitive environment and create the best conditions for the use of capital in these countries. Minsk cannot participate in “competition of jurisdictions”, local business is understandably weak.

According to Belarusian experts and official representatives, the fact that Russia continues to collect duties on oil sold to Belarus, within single economic borders, is an attempt to neutralize Belarus in terms of its two refineries. As part of the transition from the Customs Union to the Common Economic Space, Minsk prepared for sale state-owned seven most profitable Belarusian corporations. In April, 2012, President A. Lukashenko touched upon another aspect of the integration processes: the best specialists, attracted by higher Russian salaries, leave the country through the open border.

In March, at the EurAsEC Summit, Minsk 2012 unexpectedly put new initiatives (to transform EurAsEC into the Eurasian Economic Union) into doubt. The Belarusian side, in particular, insisted that before the approval of a treaty by the highest body of the organization, it must undergo internal procedures. Thus, the possibility of blocking the solution at the national level would remain.

The main reason that explains the position of Minsk on the transformation of the Eurasian Economic Community into an economic union is that the economy of Belarus differs markedly from the economies of Russia and Kazakhstan, where the share of the public sector is incomparably lower and the market competition is higher. Thus, it should be noted that the accession of Belarus to the Customs Union and the SES did not cause unanimous support in the Belarusian political class.

According to Belarusian specialists, the only, but very significant advantage of the participation of the Republic of Belarus in the CES in the medium term is low energy prices. However, experts warn that if Belarus does not embark on reforms, does not abandon directive management of the economy, this plus will be a minus, as it will increase dependence on Russia.

The lack of unanimous support of the Belarusian society at the next stage of integration in the post-Soviet space reflects the pro-European orientation of the majority of the Belarusian population and the overwhelming part of the establishment. It is necessary to take into account that the Belarusian traditional opposition also links the future of the republic exclusively with the European Union.

Between Russia and Europe

For a long time, the Belarusian leadership contended with the illusion that the EU’s policy was not aimed at changing the regime, but at its long evolution in the process of coordinating positions. There is no risk of losing sovereignty in building partnerships with Brussels. It is in this way that the direct path to the international legitimization of the Belarusian elite as the ruling stratum of an independent European state, which is its immediate interest, opens.

The president of A. Lukashenko has become an expression of the interests of the Belarusian elite. In many ways, the Russian-Belarusian contradictions are focused on the personality of this particular politician. In fact, voluntarily or involuntarily, he takes Belarus out of the integration plans of Moscow. However, the removal of Lukashenka from power will not solve the problem in terms of achieving the objectives of the Russian Federation on the full integration of Belarus. Most likely, regardless of the degree of pro-Russian orientation, any receiver of Lukashenko will be forced to continue
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