Posted 15 сентября 2020,, 10:23

Published 15 сентября 2020,, 10:23

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Belarusian opposition presented its plan for overcoming the crisis

Belarusian opposition presented its plan for overcoming the crisis

15 сентября 2020, 10:23
Fighters against Lukashenko's regime made it clear to the international democratic community what steps they expect from it in the next three months.

The Belarusian opposition has drawn up and published a document addressed to the structures of the European Union, European politicians and deputies. It actually contains a program of action for the near future, and all the proposals, according to experts, are within the institutional capacities of European governments, that is, they are quite realistic:

For the European Union and the United States, and for all countries that consider themselves the keepers of democratic traditions, a critical moment comes regarding the dramatic events in Belarus.

Putin's plan for Belarus

September 14 like and it was expected that a meeting between Lukashenko and Putin took place.

Judging by how it was being prepared, what statements were made by Putin and the Russian Foreign Ministry, the plan proposed by Lukashenko should be finally agreed upon at the meeting.

This is a plan of the so-called "settlement" through the announced constitutional reform, after which Lukashenko promises to hold free presidential and National Assembly elections.

This plan is presented as a "liberalization plan", since it contains the removal of restrictions on the development of political parties, the transfer of part of the powers from the president to parliament, etc.

It is clear that the Belarusian society is completely ready for liberalization, and the transition to parliamentary democracy, and to constitutional reform. However, in the reverse order. First, Lukashenko leaves, then free elections, including parliamentary ones, and only after that constitutional reform.

The plan is a gross deception: the reform package proposed by Lukashenko - when viewed from the West may seem to some to be "liberalization", but in reality it simply brings the Belarusian political system to the Russian model - with fictitious powers of parliament, with a system of loyalist (supposedly "opposition" parties ). It is not a step towards real inclusive politics, but a transition to a more sophisticated model of electoral authoritarianism.

The Kremlin fully supports this plan. Lukashenko has already presented it to the OSCE, and Putin will promote it in negotiations with Paris and Berlin.

If the European countries agree with this plan, and it gets the support of the OSCE, it will be perceived by the Belarusian society as a harsh betrayal.

Position of the EU and EU member states

The European Union has already created a strong starting position for further support of the Belarusian society.

An emergency summit of heads of European foreign ministries on August 19 did not recognize the elections as valid. At the summit, an agreement was reached on sanctions. These are sanctions against those responsible for violence, repression and election fraud. Economic sanctions are not expected. The coordination of sanctions and preparation for their adoption is proceeding at a high pace. The sanctions are expected to be passed on September 21. The Baltic states on August 31 have already independently imposed sanctions against 30 high-ranking Belarusian officials, including Lukashenko.

On September 9, PACE called on the Council of Europe to create an international body to collect information and preserve evidence of crimes against human rights committed in Belarus after the August 9 elections. On September 10, the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) recognized Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as the only elected leader of Belarus.

What is happening in Belarus

As of September 10, Lukashenko and his special services continue, without slowing down, to liquidate the Coordination Council. Of the members of the presidium, only Svetlana Alexievich, the Nobel Prize laureate in literature, remained at large and inside the country. Deportations are carried out without any legal basis, as was the case with Kovalkova, and then with Rodnenkov and Kravtsov. Maria Kolesnikova and Maxim Znak are in jail, they are charged with an article about "an attempt to seize power".

The Kremlin is carrying out large-scale interference in the internal affairs of Belarus, providing direct support to Lukashenko.

This support is carried out in three areas:

  1. Financial support. On September 10, it became known that Russian Prime Minister Mishustin ordered the state banks of the Russian Federation (Sberbank, VEB, VTB) to provide liquidity support to Lukashenko if Minsk does not have enough reserves to maintain the Belarusian ruble. Putin agreed to restructure Belarus' debt, giving Lukashenko an opportunity not to pay $ 1 billion of debt this year.
  2. Media support. The Kremlin media resources are completely focused on the picture of events synchronized with Lukashenko's position. A large team of journalists is working in Minsk, headed by the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Russia Today.
  3. Diplomatic support for Lukashenko's plan for constitutional reform. Since Lukashenko is out of communication with European leaders, Putin will obviously present the “settlement” plan to Macron and Merkel . Today we can say that this is the "plan of Lukashenko-Putin".

We are also aware of the work of several groups on the ground connected with the Russian special services, but they are more likely to work to keep the situation under the control of the Kremlin, rather than directly help Lukashenko.

It must be emphasized that, unlike the events in Ukraine in 2014, Putin is acting in such a way as to avoid accusations of “interference”. Support is provided institutionally - by the government, state corporations, state media.

The mobilization of pro-Russian parties and organizations is taking place along the lines of supporting constitutional reform and strengthening the role of parliament. All notable pro-Russian figures in Belarus have already made policy statements and articles.

At the next stage, when organizing and carrying out the constitutional reform, they are assigned a role in building a parliament that is convenient for the Kremlin. The work of the Kremlin proxies in Belarus was analyzed in detail by iSANS in two large reports in 2019.

Belarusian crisis in the international context

Violence and repression in Belarus

The events of August 9-13 are shocking. The scale of demonstrative violence by special forces on the streets and during detention in isolation wards seems to be unparalleled in the political history of Europe in the post-war period, even when compared with the repressive measures of the right-wing dictatorships in Portugal and Greece in the first half of the 1970s. or with the actions of the governments of the countries of the Eastern bloc in the second half of the 1980s. Lukashenko’s actions bring to mind the suppression of the “Prague Spring” of 1968 or the dispersal of a rally in Tbilisi in 1989.

Such events in modern Europe cannot remain without investigation by a special international commission.

Poisoning of Navalny

Putin's support for Lukashenka comes against the background of a monstrous fact of political banditry - an attempt on the life of Alexey Navalny using a chemical warfare agent. This event is on a par with the murders of Magnitsky and Nemtsov and in a series of poisonings of other opponents or critics of the political regime. It should be emphasized that in no case did the Kremlin conduct an exhaustive investigation, ignoring the demands of the Russian and international community. There is a direct long-term parallel between Lukashenka's actions and Putin's actions against the opposition, de facto it is one and the same set of methods of authoritarian suppression of a social movement, consisting of intimidation, bribery, political terror (attacks, murders, disappearances of people), forced emigration, or deportation.

Routine actions mean betrayal

Fundamental factor: There is a growing mass perception of the ineffectiveness of the sanctions and a sense of their devaluation. "Betrayal of the West" turns into a topic of historical significance. For the societies of the post-Soviet transit countries, the position of the democratic governments of the leading Western countries is perceived as a compromise with authoritarian regimes based on political egoism. The events in Belarus and the poisoning of Navalny are undoubtedly critical points in the perception of this opportunism. The possible real reaction of the countries of the democratic world is limited by the institutional and legal possibilities that they have. Action cannot be expected to go beyond what will be approved by the voters of these countries. However, it is clear that the response to the current situation cannot remain within the limits of "expanding sanctions".

An extraordinary situation requires extraordinary measures

The Belarusian crisis is an extraordinary situation in the center of Europe, on the borders of the EU and NATO. The unprecedented scale of electoral fraud, the unprecedented scale of police brutality towards peaceful protesters, mass torture in places of detention, several killings, disappearances and abductions - this is an incomplete list of what is happening in Belarus after the elections.

In an attempt to retain power, Lukashenko surrenders the independence of Belarus and the future of the Belarusian nation to Putin - he has already publicly asked for military assistance to suppress the protests, and also secretly opened the doors for the landing of Russian propagandists, led by the Republic of Tatarstan. This landing should synchronize the work of the Kremlin and Lukashenko's propaganda. In fact, we are dealing with a hybrid aggression of the Kremlin against sovereign Belarus, suppression of the striving of Belarusians for democracy, aimed at the “soft annexation” of Belarus.

This means that the response of the European Union and the United States, international organizations, alliances of national governments in the current situation should be a response that leaves the impression of a massive package that goes beyond previous actions. The simultaneous introduction (or announcement) of the entire package of measures is important.

In our opinion, this package should consist of the following steps:

  1. Lukashenko’s non-recognition of the president and the special status of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. After the expiration of Lukashenko's term at 00:00 on November 10, given that the EU countries have already declared the elections in Belarus invalid, Lukashenko should be recognized as a usurper of power and should no longer be considered the president of Belarus. The informal status of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya should increase significantly. However, the “government in exile” format is a weak format for continuing the consolidation of Belarusians in their struggle against the usurpation of power by Lukashenko. The European Union should offer Tikhanovskaya such a status in Brussels that would allow her and a wide range of active participants in the Belarusian struggle for democracy to act in the public sphere, relying on all the opportunities in Europe and the United States.
  2. An immediate package of sanctions against Lukashenko and his inner circle. The imposition of sanctions against Lukashenko and against persons who gave orders and executed them on falsified elections, armed retention of power, crimes against citizens of Belarus during and after the protests, as well as against individuals and businesses that provide the financial basis for the existence of the Lukashenko regime.
  3. Tribunal. Creation of a special international tribunal to investigate the events of 10-13 August in Belarus, including against persons who gave orders and executed them on falsified elections, armed retention of power, crimes against citizens of Belarus during and after the protests. It can be created on the basis of international mechanisms and UN conventions, OSCE commitments and mechanisms, Council of Europe conventions and using the principle of universal jurisdiction.
  4. List of accession actors (Belarusian “Magnitsky List”) Imposition of personal sanctions against a wide range of persons participating from the Russian side in the implementation of Putin's plan towards Belarus. The list should include both official operators and representatives of the Kremlin "proxies" actively working towards joining Belarus to Russia.
  5. Hybrid Warfare Act. The Kremlin's actions in relation to Minsk should be qualified as a "hybrid war". It should be emphasized that the "Lukashenko-Putin settlement plan" entails an intense hybrid war of the Kremlin against Poland, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and later against all those countries that have taken a firm stand of support for the Belarusian society. At the level of the European Union, following the events of 2020, adopt the "Hybrid War Act", which comprehensively characterizes the Kremlin's actions in Europe, as a continuous strategy of interventions, destabilizations and unacceptable actions on the territory of the EU countries. Such an act will allow in the future to deploy concrete actions to the national governments of the European Union countries, to build up tools for responding to the Kremlin's toxic actions in Europe.
  6. Act RT (Russia Today). Since the state-owned Russian media holding Russia Today has been appointed by the Kremlin as the main information and political hub, creating content aimed at discrediting the protest movement in Belarus, its goals, and the intentions of its leaders, it is impossible to ignore this frank, cynical use of the Kremlin's media capabilities not only in regarding Belarusians, but also regarding the real intentions of the governments of the EU countries. This direct use of RT in the context of the Belarusian crisis is the best evidence of the need for a separate package of measures in relation to RT. The RT Act should declare a clear, consolidated intention to paralyze any work of this media holding outside the Russian Federation as a result of a package of measures.
  7. Act of Support for the Belarusian Society (Marshall Plan for Belarus). At present, the governments of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have assumed great responsibility in the European Union in the field of supporting the Belarusian society. This leads them to aggravate the conflict with Moscow. This situation cannot persist for a long time without the support of the entire European and Transatlantic community. Further support of the Belarusian society requires the creation of a Commission at the level of the governing bodies of the European Union. Such a commission will legitimize and strengthen the measures of support that the neighboring countries provide to Belarusians. This act should clearly show the motivation for all EU countries to act towards democratizing Belarus and preserving its sovereignty. In addition, he must guarantee support for the democratic transition of Belarus after Lukashenko's departure.
  8. Preservation of the Belarusian IT community. A special topic is the defeat of the IT cluster in Belarus and repression against representatives of the Belarusian creative industries. This caused understandable indignation of the global environment of IT specialists, startups, programmers. For example, the firm of Mikita Mikado, a well-known IT startup of Belarusian origin, who works in London, was attacked by Lukashenko's special services in Minsk. With regard to this progressive environment, at the level of the governing structures of the European Union, a decision must be made to support in an institutional form.