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Understanding Belarus

LUKASHENKO.jpg [1]

By Carlos Taibo (for Safe Democracy)

Carlos Taibo explains why Belarus has resisted the charms of orange revolutions that, in the last thirty months, have been imposed upon Georgia, Ukraine and Kirguizistan, and today accepts an authoritarian president like Lukashenko. Taibo believes that Belarussians have welcome that which is better to have the already known bad than the good to be known, and that the economic results, the support of Moscow to Minsk and the orange revolution deception in the region appear to be some of the reasons to come to a better understanding of Belarus.


Carlos Taibo is a Political Science professor at the Autonomous University in Madrid and one of the leading experts in Russia and Eastern Europe. He teachs at the Master in International Relations and Communications in the Complutense University in Madrid and has published dozens of books on international politics.

Carlos Taibo.jpg [2] LUKASHENKO’S BELARUS APPEARS TO HAVE resisted the charms of the orange revolutions that, in the last thirty months, have been imposed upon Georgia, Ukraine and Kirguizistan. Now is the time that it must ask itself of similar negativity.

IRREGULARITIES
The first, but not the most important, remits against the registered irregularities, many and not precisely modest, in the March electoral process. What is known is that the campaign was particularly dirty and that the vote recounts were marked by patrons that invite suspicion. Even knowing this, it appears apart from discussion that Lukashenko ‘s victory was sufficiently clear enough as if to feel obligated to conclude that, for whatever reasons, the mental processes and political attitudes that were made to value in the Belarusian electorate are quite different than those in Ukraine during the fall of 2004.

To explain the aforementioned, one does not need to go too far away. If, on the one hand, the Belarusian opposition –true, it is submitted to countless shackles– has barely begun to lift up in flight, and on the other hand, Lukashenko can exhibit economic results that, despite being modest, they appear to have put a stop to extreme situations of penury manifestations within countries belonging to the same geographic environment that opted for radical reforms in their moment.

To grant privilege to productive infrastructure maintenance, still detrimental to any effort adapting to rules, abrasive occasionally, Lukashenko has established a heterodox model that counts –let us not fool ourselves– with the undeniable support from his compatriots.

AN ALLIANCE WITH MOSCOW
Not only that: The latest Moscow alliance has permitted Belarus to continue receiving petroleum and natural gas at sensibly inferior prices compared to those at international market levels, which has operated like an oxygen balloon for the economy.

Surely, many voters who are not particularly sympathetic for an authoritarian president have thought twice before going to vote, and have overlooked what would occur in the case of a rupture in the privileged relationship between Minsk and Moscow. There has not been a sufficient protest against the vague and interested promises of the occidental potencies.

ORANGE REVOLUTIONS’ FIASCO
Another explanation may be added to explain why the electorate behavior has demonstrated to be different in Belarus: the indelible effect of the bad image that the own orange revolutions have produced in present-day.

Information is multiplying, despite our news media barely occupies itself with it, which suggests that they are a formidable fiasco and dissatisfaction is installing itself among their own protagonists. It is not difficult to appreciate a common element in a form of general discredit of executive elites that have demonstrated, in both their conduct and interest, to be very similar to those that they displaced. In the presence of a similar panorama, those that have held onto that which is better to have the already known bad than the good to be known have not been absent.