Putin has as much to fear in Belarusian protests as Lukashenka does, Portnikov says

Putin and Lukashenka

Putin and Lukashenka 

2017/02/22 • Analysis & Opinion, Belarus, Politics, Russia

Because the money is running out and because Russia can no longer make up the difference, Alyaksandr Lukashenka faces a situation he neither expected nor knows how to respond to, one in which not the nationalists but his own electorate has turned against him, Vitaly Portnikov says.

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

What the Minsk dictator will do next is “unknown,” the Ukrainian commentator says, adding the critical observation that everyone should be watching what happens in Lukashenka’s country not only for its own sake but because of what it says about what may happen in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“In Russia,” as in Belarus, “the government’s resources are also approaching exhaustion – and social protests are not far distant,” Portnikov says. And thus, “Putin also will have to react to protests from his own electorate and not in Moscow” but in the Russian Federation’s far-flung regions and republics.

For Putin, he argues, “this will be much more terrible” and terrifying than protests, however large, in Moscow’s public squares.

Thus, “if Lukashenka collapses, Putin will collapse as well because Russia is similar to Belarus from the political point of view and not the reverse. Moscow learned from Minsk nostalgia for things Soviet and for authoritarianism” as such. Indeed, for Putin, Belarus like Tatarstan and Chechnya earlier is a testing ground.

Consequently, “if Lukashenka is able to find a model for survival in poverty – from repression to playing with the opposition,” Portnikov suggests, “Putin almost certainly will use this approach to save himself.” That makes the protests across Belarus far more important than many now see them.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dagwood Bumstead

    The question is, what CAN Luka offer the demonstrators that will placate them? He’s caught between a rock and a hard place as any move towards the west and making Belarus less dependent on Dwarfstan will almost certainly result in a negative response from the dwarf. Moving toward the west would be the logical thing to do, but he isn’t in a position to do so. All he has left is increasing the repression and hoping that will end the protests. But will it?
    The dwarf doesn’t even have the option of moving west, because he will have to fully comply with whatever the west demands and that will include returning both Donbas and Crimea to Kyiv. China won’t help the dwarf because it is in Peking’s interests to have a weak Dwarfstan- and the weaker the better.
    I’d say Luka and the dwarf have painted themselves into corners- and those corners are getting smaller.

    • RedSquareMaidan

      As those walls get closer and closer to Minsk, St. Petersburg and Moscow they will feel the pinch of real people living in the real world and Red Square Maidan will happen because they cannot stop it.

  • zorbatheturk

    All these Soviet clowns are on the wrong side of history. They should have been gone by 2000. They have no place in the 21st century.

  • veth
  • Dirk Smith

    The clocking is ticking on our favorite botox dwarf. Trump was his last card; everything else moving forward will be desperate acts by a dying regime. Let’s pray the generals, Congress, and Pence get through Trump’s thick skull about his mongol boyfriend.

  • Greg

    How long before Russia’s Little Green Men are on the scene? I see an opportunity for Putin to expand his borders again and surround Ukraine and build a land bridge to Kalinigrad..