Minsk shows the Kremlin and the West the movie "Die Hard" ("NAVINY.BY", Belarus)
“Remember: I have never been afraid of anyone and I am not afraid,” said Alexander Lukashenko to 9 journalists in September in Minsk. The leitmotif of the new cascade of loud statements comes down to the fact that the official leader of the blue-eyed republic will not give up the West, nor Russia, nor the internal opposition, "to divide, to tear, as it happened in some of our neighbors."
Observers believe that Lukashenko works for the electorate in the traditional style of a tough nut - and at the same time tries to raise the stakes in the very bargaining with foreign countries, which he strenuously denies.
In the morning - the release of political prisoners, in the evening - money
The head of state indirectly confirmed that the regime was taken in ticks. He was outraged by the position of the IMF, from which Minsk asked for a loan in the amount of up to 8 billion dollars: “They are economists, financiers - do you know what they are up to? They already demand the release of political prisoners. What does this have to do with the IMF? You do finance and economics. ”
So, although the IMF did not state anything publicly (and it is unlikely to declare - it is formally out of politics), the West, which has a controlling stake in the fund, expectedly used this lever and behind the scenes articulated the classical condition: in the morning - chairs (political issue), in the evening - money .
“Everyone today felt the smell of blood: here, the Belarusians got on their knees, and they should be finished, subjugate the people, pick up enterprises, enter some foreign currency,” Lukashenko chewed the salt of the current moment.
Since it is difficult to imagine that the West imposes a dollar or a euro on us (enough, the Greeks have entered - now they are not discharged!), It remains to assume that Moscow quietly revived the plantation plantation in the Blue-and-Blue ruble with a double-headed eagle. This is a plus to the well-known package of requirements for privatization at a reasonable price for a number of assets (by default in favor of Russian capital).
In general, they really put pressure on both sides. The authorities just did not have enough to seethe in Belarus itself. It is precisely to calm the public that iron statements are calculated that no one will tilt us. The people should not doubt the strength and inflexibility of the leader.
You have not entered, gentlemen, comrades!
What is the bottom line if you remove the PR foam?
“Lukashenka hasn’t yet started a dialogue with the West,” concludes Valery Karbalevich, an expert at the Analytical center “Strategy” (Minsk). “At least, it did not go on the conditions that the Belarusian leadership expected”.
In a comment for Naviny.by, the analyst stressed that the head of state de-facto disavowed the promise to hold talks with the opposition (even though he confirmed confidential contacts with the EU emissary - Bulgarian Minister Nikolai Mladenov, and not only with him).
Indeed, 9 of September Lukashenko made it clear that the opposition in vain opened the mitten: the authorities did not mean any exclusive negotiations with them. At the proposed round table (or whatever they call it) “the entire political spectrum should be represented - the union of women, and trade unions, and ours, and not ours, and they will be someone from the government”.
Simply put, the government would like to sell Europe the second edition of the “broad dialogue of social and political forces” that took place (and also under pressure from the West) in 2000 year. Then the opposition was dissolved among representatives of loyal structures, and the agreements (in particular, regarding the access of political opponents to the state media) were simply thrown into the trash.
According to the Minsk analyst Andrei Fedorov, the Belarusian authorities “once again play their favorite game“ You did not understand us so much ”.
In an interview with Naviny.by, the source noted: for a long time, this game was used in relations with Russia. For example, before the next elections they promised to sell assets, and after the elections they would make a surprised face. Now, in relations with the EU, Minsk is trying to use the same paradigm: we meant just such a broad dialogue, and what did you think?
Matter of course, Brussels will balk. “Such a substitution is unlikely to mislead the Westernizers,” says Valery Karbalevich.
But at the same time, the search for a compromise regarding the format and rules of the internal political dialogue that Europe would like to see in Belarus will probably begin. As a result, Minsk gains time and minimizes concessions.
The same applies to the problem of political prisoners. On the one hand, Lukashenka’s September 9 indirectly reaffirmed its previous promises: “The time will come, we are not bloodthirsty, and we will release them.” On the other hand, he stressed that on this issue "we do not bargain with anyone."
Independent experts tend to read the subtext of the assurances with the particle “not” to the exact opposite (and experience confirms the adequacy of this approach to the speeches of the Belarusian authorities).
Analysts conclude that the regime is still trying to raise its stakes in backstage bargaining with the EU. Obviously, the ruling elite believes that it has a margin of safety.
Juche or highways?
On the one hand, as Andrei Fedorov notes, “a demonstration of the firmness of the leadership is unlikely to compensate the electorate for higher prices.” That is, the exploitation of the image of a small but proud republic is less and less effective when, as in the old joke, there is nothing to peck at.
On the other hand, grumbling in queues and in kitchens (an advanced version: on forums and in social networks) has not yet been converted into bunches of anger predicted by the opposition. The degree of the hot autumn promised to the regime is questionable today. A lot of Belarusians hit the usual paradigm of plant-based survival and burrow into the beds.
In other words, the compliance of the authorities in negotiations with Russia and the West will depend not only on the rate of deterioration of the socio-economic situation. “Much depends on the degree of patience of the Belarusian people,” emphasizes Valery Karbalevich. “If society doesn’t protest strongly, the authorities will continue to balk.”
Nevertheless, the ruling elite hardly hopes that the Belarusians, for all their legendary unpretentiousness, will agree to the European edition of Juche. By the way, Lukashenko in the same speech of September 9 promised his compatriots in five years the highways are not worse than the German ones.
If this is not a bare bluff (and if the instinct of self-preservation did not atrophy in power at all), then it will be necessary to reanimate relations with the West (and, accordingly, a series of reforms).
For now the very real prospect of becoming a colony of Russia (which, as we know, has two misfortunes ...) does not promise the Belarusians autobahns.
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