Riots are already going on throughout the republic. TASS, citing the human rights activist, announced the first person killed during the protests in Minsk.
There is no official data of the Belarusian Interior Ministry about the victims yet. It is only reported that on August 10, criminal cases were opened on the fact of the riots. Their participants and organizers face up to 15 years in prison. Mass protests covered not only Minsk, but also other cities of Belarus. How justified are the actions of the police and riot police? How much will Lukashenko's security forces have enough reserves if mass protests cover the entire country? "NI" addressed this question to Lieutenant General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Major General of the FSB (retired) Alexander Mikhailov.
A. Mikhailov: “We do not know the number of police and riot police that are involved in suppressing protests in Belarus. But any "silovik" understands: tough police actions will provoke even more aggressive retaliatory actions of the protesters. If there are fatalities, the protest will grow. Therefore, now the main task of the police is to increase the security zone, to increase the distance between the protesters and the police. In the event of an attack on representatives of the security forces, the police and riot police can respond with cruelty to cruelty. Special means in such cases are used in order to minimize collisions. After all, flash-noise grenades, gas spraying are not lethal means of influence, they do not carry a nerve effect, do not cause serious harm to health. There are special instructions regarding shooting with rubber bullets, where you cannot aim with them, so as not to harm your health.
In general, the situation in Belarus is in many ways a dead end. The protesters don't know exactly what they want. They don't like Lukashenko, but there is no other clear leader. Moreover, the voting showed that Lukashenko has a lot of supporters. Much will now depend on the actions of the protesters and their determination. As for the use of special forces, I repeat: it was impossible without them. The crowd is aggressive, warmed up, it had to be stopped by any non-lethal means".
NI: Is it possible to negotiate with the protesters?
A. Mikhailov : “The protest that we are seeing is more emotional than motivated. The mood of the crowd is generally not very clear. The protesters do not seem to want Lukashenko, but they definitely cannot name the person who will be in his place. Yesterday I was at the Belarusian embassy in Moscow. It seems that there is a crowd of people, it seems that they came to vote "for". But suddenly the crowd starts chanting: "Lukashenko, go away!"
The trouble is that these people are not controllable, the protesters have no leaders with whom to start negotiating. There is no one to try to find a compromise with, to negotiate. Today it is not clear who influences the protesters and with whom it is necessary to enter into dialogue in order to stop the bloodshed".
NI: In some places, the protesters have already forced the police to retreat. Thus, the residents of Baranovichi forced the soldiers of the special police unit to flee. The video of this incident is already "walking" on the Internet.
A. Mikhailov: “The army, police, riot police, including the Belarusian ones, are“ sharpened ”mainly on the external enemy. It is morally difficult for many to “beat” on “friends”. In addition, the problem of the need to change the government was probably discussed in many families".
NI: According to what scenario can events begin to develop if the protest goes far beyond the territory of Minsk? Does Lukashenko have the ability to keep the situation under control?
A. Mikhailov: “Minsk is a managed structure with government bodies. How many forces are concentrated in other regions of the republic is not known. Yes, Lukashenko has an army. But the army is a dangerous tool. And it is not a fact that this army will oppose the crowd of protesters. I think that the police forces will be enough, the army will not have to be involved in suppressing the rebels.
It is possible that in this situation the special services may split up, and Lukashenko will not have a single support. But the problem is also that we can only build our own versions. There are no foreign journalists in Belarus now, state journalists are controlled. There is practically no objective information that could truthfully describe the situation in the republic. But the main thing is that people do not know exactly who they want in power and do not clearly formulate their demands.
NI: Is it possible that in the current situation Lukashenko will turn to Russia for help?
A. Mikhailov: "He will not apply. In what status will he apply? He has not yet assumed office. And in what form will this help be? Power assistance from Russia in this case is excluded".
What is happening now in Belarus is the problem of all regimes where there is no regular change of power, when the leader stays in the highest position for too long. Problem and lesson. The result is unfulfilled expectations, an explosion of discontent, which will lead to the fact that even a legally elected president comes to power with the support of the security forces. And this is no longer democracy".