The videoconference of the heads of state and government of the EU lasted 3 hours. After her, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU does not recognize the election results. European leaders believe that the vote was dishonest and not free. There is no doubt that the rules for holding elections in Belarus were violated. European politicians paid special attention to the situation after the vote. “We condemn the use of violence and force against people”, - said Angela Merkel. The heads of European states demanded that all the detainees be released immediately, without any conditions. The Europeans joined the demand of the Belarusian opposition to start a dialogue between all parties.
Dmitry Orlov, the political scientist, general director of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications APEC, believes: “The situation cannot constantly evolve in the format of a daily rally with the slogans “Go away” and“ we believe, we can, we will win”. Therefore, politicians - Putin, Merkel, Macron - are looking for real ways to resolve the crisis. And the real path is the players with influence and the institutions, traditional or new, that can guarantee something".
Special attention at the summit was paid to the issue of outside interference in the Belarusian crisis - it should not be. This is how the heads of European states responded to the statements of Alexander Lukashenko about military assistance from Russia. The OSCE could participate and moderate the Belarusian dialogue, but Russia's interference will make the situation even more difficult, Chancellor Merkel said. The head of the European Council Jean Michel said that the European Union will soon impose sanctions against those who falsified the elections, as well as those people in power who organized and directed the violence and repression in Belarus.
“We will soon impose sanctions against a significant number of Belarusian officials”, - he said at a press conference after the EU video summit.
The media reported that the list of members of the Belarusian leadership, officials and security officials who fell under the sanctions will be made public next week, after the meeting of the EU foreign ministers this Friday in Berlin. Whether the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko himself will fall under sanctions again, EU representatives have not yet said. Until 2016, it was under EU sanctions.
Some experts believe the sanctions will help the protesters. “The decision of the European Union will support the protesters. They will know that they are supported by the world around them, and they are not alone in this struggle. Lukashenka does not enjoy support, ”says political analyst Abbas Gallyamov.
Professor, Doctor of Political Sciences Yuliy Nisnevich also sees the expediency of such tough political actions: “Targeted tough sanctions are additional pressure on Lukashenko. Now the question is being decided how much pressure will be exerted on him from all sides. Pressure is a way of solving problems".
Other experts believe that sanctions are pointless. They will only unite the Belarusian elite. “I don’t think the sanctions will help the protesters. Rather, they will unite the ruling class of Belarus - if we assume that its configuration will be close to the current one for at least the next few months. At the same time, a significant part of the population will blame the West for the deterioration of the situation”, - says Dmitry Orlov.
The EU has a difficult situation. It is not possible to determine the winner of the elections, therefore the Europeans support the opposition's demand to hold new elections. The head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy Ilya Grashchenkov believes that “The sanctions are just a fixation of the EU's disagreement with the election results in the Republic of Belarus. But they cannot recognize Tikhanovskaya as a legitimate president, there is no texture - numbers, material. As a result, the EU takes an intermediate position, on the one hand, supporting civil protest, on the other, not wanting to associate itself with the “President in exile”, following the example of Venezuelan Guaido. Therefore, now it is not so important what the EU and the Russian Federation will decide there, and what the opposition itself will decide”.
The press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov made a very remarkable statement that there is no need for military assistance to Belarus now, and Alexander Lukashenko himself thinks so, Peskov noted. Lukashenko did not think so publicly. On the contrary, he constantly stressed the need for such fraternal assistance. Lukashenko is an experienced political manipulator. He succeeded many times, and each time he won. “Putin understands that Lukashenka wants to play him as a card, but in such cases Putin himself is three heads higher than Lukashenka. Russia's response may be unexpected, anomalous, so playing with us is more expensive. Even now Lukashenka is trying to take control of the situation himself, without the help of the Kremlin, which means he is hardly an ally”, - says Ilya Grashchenkov. In Russia, they want Lukashenka, retaining power, while returning to the fold of the Union State, without delay, launch the integration process. At the same time, Moscow does not need Lukashenko himself, as an unreliable person, but at the beginning of the launch itself it cannot do without him.
Kremlin sources say that Lukashenko's minimum task is to hold out for two or three weeks, since there is hope that the protest will subside. And then gradually prepare new elections without Lukashenko.
The Russian government cannot but support Lukashenko for internal political reasons, but not at any cost. “The Kremlin needs to support Lukashenko, but not at the cost of bringing in Russian troops there, because this will hit Putin's rating in Russia, and his position will drastically weaken. After Crimea, people already know that abrupt unilateral steps lead to a decline in living standards, to sanctions, to tightening the screws. The transformation of Russia into the new gendarme of Europe will cause a sharp surge of protest sentiments, ”political analyst Abbas Gallyamov is sure.
Political observers do not exclude contacts between the Russian authorities and all forces in Belarus. “In my opinion, Putin understands the situation more broadly than“ helping Lukashenka ”. And he acts in accordance with the logic of Russia's national interests. After all, at least the protection of borders and investments is necessary. I think we interact with many Belarusian politicians, including opposition ones. Lukashenka, relying on the security officials, controls the situation, and this must be taken into account”, - Dmitry Orlov said.
Yuliy Nisnevich considers several options for further events: “There may be such an option that a multilateral system of negotiations will be launched. But it is not yet clear who would like to put the European Union, Russia, Belarus and the opposition at the same negotiating table. So far, this is also not visible. As far as I understand, the Kremlin is not negotiating, but it can talk with the opposition, although not with the top officials, to sort out the situation. But such an attempt must be made. These are completely behind-the-scenes negotiations, they are dealt with by special people, special services. I hope that they conduct such information intelligence, it would be reasonable".
The situation in Belarus is unique in that the opposition has unmistakably identified the weak point of the regime. The factories in the country are state-owned and the strikes will strike a blow at Lukashenko.
“Strikes are the most effective tool. If the entire economy goes up, no dictator can hold out. The main task is to get as many workers and enterprises as possible to participate in the protest. Members of the coordination council of the opposition must travel to enterprises, create strike committees, form delegations from these enterprises, and go with these delegations to those enterprises that are not on strike yet. The street will follow automatically”, - says Gallyamov.
It is important to understand that the scope of the historical moment for the opposition is not unlimited. Time works only for Lukashenko, no matter how paradoxical it sounds. Therefore, the protesters should immediately begin negotiations for new elections or take power into their own hands, experts say. As our sources in the Kremlin say, Lukashenko needs guarantees, he does not hide this in personal conversations. But for this Lukashenko must appoint negotiators, transfer the street protest into the channel of dialogue. This is the only way he can get guarantees. Moscow wants constitutional amendments and new elections. And the Russian authorities will support a candidate not named Lukashenko or Babariko.
In Belarus itself, only new free elections are required. And they are asking to join the strikes, according to Lukashenko himself, the damage from which has already amounted to $ 500 million. So it works.
Last Friday, August 14, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced its "readiness" to discuss the situation in the country with the European Union, which threatened Minsk with renewal of sanctions.
But five days later, Lukashenka's position turned 180 degrees. “The leaders of the Western states offer us negotiations, talks. And at this time they continue to bend their line. We also see it, understand it, but do not perceive it. I want them to hear it”, - Lukashenko said on Wednesday at a meeting with members of the Security Council, the meetings of which turned into a daily format.
“These gentlemen have a beam in their eye. I would simply advise them: before poking a finger at us, put on the agenda of their meetings the issues of “yellow vests” in France, the terrible riots in the United States”, - BelTA quotes Lukashenko.
Lukashenka’s statements turned sharply after his flight from Moscow to Minsk on Tuesday flew out special board of the FSB of Russia - Tu-214VPU with registration number RA-64523. The aircraft has the status of "high-altitude control point" and, according to TopWar, is used to transport the FSB leadership.
On Wednesday, Lukashenko ordered the KGB to identify the organizers of street actions and "work to the maximum", the Ministry of Internal Affairs - to stop the riots in Minsk, and the Ministry of Defense - to monitor NATO troops in Poland and Lithuania and "not hesitate" to withdraw their units in their direction. Local authorities, meanwhile, began to gather the population for forced rallies in support of Lukashenko, writes Tut.by. The day before, such events took place in Gomel, Kopyl and Mogilyov, and the last meeting had to be taken from other cities.