So-called "little green men" (the Russian occupation troops comprised of special forces who removed insignia, wear face masks to prevent identification and call themselves a "Crimean self-defense force") surround a Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, Crimea, during the Russian annexation of the peninsula in March 2014.
Vladimir Putin’s decision to force Mensk to agree to the establishment of a Russian base in Belarus is empowering the Belarusian opposition, weakening Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and provoking spontaneous protests that threaten to destabilize Russia’s western neighbor and one of its few remaining allies.
Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, a Belarusian poet who heads the Tell the Truth! campaign and who is slated to be tried tomorrow on charges that he organized demonstrations September 10 and September 23 against the opening of a Russian base, says that Moscow’s plans are having unintended consequences in Belarus.
“This is obvious,” he says, “not only from the independent media but also from the reaction of people. And all this together is creating the opportunity for the spontaneous… protest actions against the fraudulent elections and against foreign bases, and in general against the policy of the authorities which have made the country completely dependent on Russia.”
Even Lukashenka, he says, is trying to turn away from that as a result.
Nyaklyayew says that Belarusians are becoming to understand the lack of prospects for the current regime nonetheless and to believe that protests are possible and may lead to change. Such attitudes are “broader than the authorities may have expected,” and consequently, the Lukashenka regime is using the courts to try to frighten people away.
But he suggests that those efforts will not work that that there will be another protest on October 4 against the imposition of a Russian military base in Belarus. That would be just one week ahead of the scheduled presidential elections there.