Is Lukashenka running out of bullets? – and three other reasons why Belarus will never be the same again

The riot police detains a protester in Minsk, Belarus on March 25, 2017. (Credit: NN.By)

The riot police detains a protester in Minsk, Belarus on March 25, 2017. (Credit: NN.By) 

Analysis & Opinion, Belarus, Politics

In Gorbachev’s time, many Russians told an anecdote about a man who, having stood in line for hours to buy meat and toilet paper without success, starts grumbling and is approached by a Soviet militiaman who tells him he shouldn’t be complaining and that in the old days, he’d have been shot, but now, he’ll be let off with a warning.

The man goes home and says to his wife: “Masha, its worse than we thought. Not only have they run out of meat and toilet paper, but apparently they are running out of bullets as well!” That anecdote may become more truth than poetry in Belarus if stories coming out of Minsk are true.

In the wake of protests across Belarus – see an interactive map – there are two reports that Lukashenka hasn’t run out of bullets just yet but that he is now unable to pay his siloviki what they think they deserve, a potentially fatal problem for a dictator relying on them.

The first report, by Vladimir Kovalkin, a Belarusian activist who tracks government spending, the Belarusian security services raised a hullabaloo in advance of March 25 and over-dramatized what they did in the hopes of getting more money for their work.

Since 2014, he says, spending on the Belarusian siloviki has fallen every year, from 1.289 billion US dollars in that year to only 808 million US dollars in 2017, a reflection of the budget stringencies Lukashenka is acting under given the collapse of his relations with Moscow and the absence of any new sources of revenue.

According to Kovalkin, the employees of Lukashenka’s interior ministry do not do much except disperse opposition meetings and so they have to use those events to justify their existence. In fact, he says, there is no justification for Belarus having as many interior ministry officers as it has.

The second report comes from Nikolay Statkevich, the head of the Belarusian National Congress. He said that

“Lukashenka [now] has no money to support the siloviki establishment” he has created because he has created a situation in which he has to rely on force alone, his “social contract” with the people no longer in place.

The opposition leader continues that he and his colleagues “had underrated the level of panic among the bosses … The country has been seized by a group of bandits. We must do something. I am not calling you to armed struggle. That isn’t necessary. But peaceful protest shows that we are a people.”

Three other stories coming out of Belarus in the last 36 hours confirm that the situation there has fundamentally changed.

First of all, a psychologist says that Belarusians have lost their fear of the authorities and even their fear of imprisonment and so are prepared to risk far more than in the past. They have the sense, she says, that things are moving quickly and that the Lukashenka regime is not long for this world. One piece of evidence of the changed attitude of Belarusians: they are now expressing their solidarity with those who have been arrested by writing letters to them.

Second, at least some longstanding players in the regime are positioning themselves as supporters of things the opposition cares about. Pavel Yakubovich, perhaps Lukashenka’s most prominent journalistic supporter, says he wants people to remember that he was behind setting up memorials at Kuropaty.

And third, the Lukashenka regime is scrambling to figure out how it can track the organizers of protests, something it has proven extremely bad at in recent weeks, especially given the solidarity of the population and the unwillingness of ordinary Belarusians to turn other Belarusians in.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Nowhere Girl

    Russian “анекдот” should rather be translated as “joke”. At least in Polish I personally use the following distinction: “dowcip” (joke) is a little funny story, “anegdota” (anecdote) is a TRUE little funny story.

    • Oknemfrod

      Agreed. The Russians possessed the word (likely from French) but went on to use it to denote something for which they had had no word. Russian has no counterpart to “dowcip” – unlike Ukrainian and Czech which have “дотеп” (dotep) and “vtip”, correspondingly.

      • Eddy Verhaeghe

        Oknemfrod, always nice to read you. I always learn something 😉

        • Oknemfrod

          Thank you for your kind words, Eddy. Haven’t had much time to post lately – work and stuff. Reciprocally, I’m always glad when you chime in.
          p.s. If you’d like to use my real name, it’s Paul ;).

          • Andrew Chmile

            That’s a LIE!!!
            It’s PAULIE!!!

            From the Pizdiuk family of Philadelphia!

          • Oknemfrod

            I see. If you combine Paul and Lie, you get Paulie. Fair enough ;).

          • Andrew Chmile

            That was creative, I must say! :)

          • Oknemfrod

            Yes, but on your part ;).

          • Andrew Chmile
          • Oknemfrod

            These “peoples” must be the longest living on the face of the earth to remember that from before the 1860’s.

            p.s. The issue is easy to clarify. Let some Yupik from Alaska visit their brethren in Russia and stay with them enough to experience the “Russian respect” first hand, not forgetting to find out why only about 900 of them still remain in existence.

          • Andrew Chmile

            Hmm… I didn’t know that.

            But I did know that Ruski haven’t respect for anyone & that they always lie.

            They are either at your throat or at your feet.
            Mongols had a very poor opinion of them.

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            O.k. Paul it will be 😉

          • Oknemfrod

            It is ;).

        • Andrew Chmile

          Copy for STEADY EDDY

          (“Paulie” got his copy! :)

          (her VOICE can make grown men & women cry!)

          YOUR LINK COLLECTION!! — “HERE” (i.e. where I was posting “Oknemfrod about Kvitka) — AND ON PAGE BELOW in EuroPress–

          Some
          CRY on hearing her — See “interview” — THE FULL VERSION!! — Jamala
          the Crimean Tartar (hard to follow — speaks in Russian) just about
          admits she is outclassed & DWARFED by Kvitka, it seems like…
          POWERFUL VOICE!!! A special KIND of soprano! —

          She was called “the most heard voice in America.”

          Check out a lot of GOOD LINKS on Kvitka (Kasey) on (I made multiple comments here!)

          http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/04/07/kvitka-cisyk-the-american-singing-sensation-who-never-forgot-her-ukrainian-roots/#

        • Andrew Chmile

          RARE!!! — Kvitka — had this kind of voice!!!

          One musician — older dude CRIED when hearing it !!! — & he was A Uke (Jew) from NYC — & first heard her in the back of a taxi cab in Kyiv !!

          SO HE BECAME A “FOLLOWER” of her & wants everyone to know!

          — coloratura soprano — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coloratura_soprano

      • Andrew Chmile

        I can’t believe those monhol @ssholes!!! AMAZING!!!!

        Btw:
        TRAGEDY!!!
        RUSSIANS ALARMED!!!
        RUSKI FOREIGN MINISTRY ALERT!!!
        DANGER!!!
        RUSSIAN ALERT!!!!

        They may speak Ukrainian in Ukraine!!!
        A-A-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-E-E-E-E-eeee!!!!!!!!

        https://twitter.com/mfa_russia/status/847372231483183104

        Can you believe this BS?!

        • Oknemfrod

          Since she is not versed in English, I wonder who writes this balderdash for her.

          Anyhow, she should check in a вытрезвитель for a while, wash her always disheveled filthy hair, and then go visit some of the 1000+ Russian-language schools in Ukraine – and then cross-check why there are zero Ukrainian schools for 2 million Ukrainians living in Russia.

          It would also be amusing to hear her explain how the prevalence of book printing and media in Russian over Ukrainian passes for “total derussification and forced Ukrainisation” in Ukraine.

          • Andrew Chmile

            Hmm … googled “вытрезвитель”…

            Nasty aren’t you? :)

            “wash her always disheveled filthy hair, ”

            You know…..
            She DOES give that effect, I must agree with you on that point.I have also observed such….

            So you noticed that as well, & have that impression too, eh? :)

            Maybe you should watch her do that Ruski “kalinka dance” that she performed.

            She does work out, I give her that …. has decent legs… even Lavrov walking by once noticed that.

            For whatever reason, I get the idea, that before she got married, she was the biggest kurva & @sshole around,

            Your other points I agree with as well of course..

          • Oknemfrod

            Yeah, I’ve seen that dance of her. Will leave it to those who understand dancing to evaluate her skill level and artistic quality. My overall impression from the action was that I had espied something thoroughly indecent and vulgar.
            p.s. She is still what you called her regardless of her marital status.

          • Andrew Chmile

            “My overall impression from the action was that I had espied something thoroughly indecent and vulgar. ”

            :)
            Yeah … know what you mean there. :)

            “p.s. She is still what you called her regardless of her marital status.”

            Hmm … that would make “sense” …. she just —- “radiates” all that …
            She “balled” her way up… everywhere….. Ruska kurva… will cut your throat …

          • Oknemfrod

            Exactly, that’s what she exudes. (Probably apter than “radiate”. The latter reminds me of the “rare and radiant maiden” from “The Raven” – hardly a description fitting this gorgon.)

            As to how she’s gotten where she is, come to think of it … an external affairs ministry rep who knows no English and has someone who does write tweets for her. Unthinkable elsewhere but in the dwarf’s circle should be no surprise: wheeler-dealer Rotenberg “builds” a bridge, fake-PhD Medinsky manages the “culture”, Shoigu who’s never served a day in the military commands it, and so forth. “Merit-based” is something unheard of there, which is one of the reasons the place is what it is.

          • Andrew Chmile

            “exudes” — yeah …. like from her pizda …. an exudate…

          • Oknemfrod

            Aargh. That’s way too gross.

          • Andrew Chmile

            Thank you!

            Sorta a cheese sandwich…. a “condition” some have…
            I’ve never experienced such…. I have “special links”
            to “share” with female Ruski trolls …

            They can be helpful …. Teaching them new concepts you know.
            Monhol females seem to “think” all they need to do is to say”
            “NA!!!” — YOU FILTHY SWINE!!! & BE SUPREMELY GRATEFUL!!!

            Don’ think so….
            One Ruski male elected to read my material about such, & in an indirect manner was grateful for such.

            Just spreading (sorry!) culture to the monhols, one pizda at a time….

            I’m only one man…

          • Andrew Chmile

            Russki women are ***DIRTY*** you know….

            Help them!

            https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=vagina+smells

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            One video showing the 2 faces of Russia : Zakharova’s dance and the other face of Russia :

            The ‘pretty’ one and the real one…

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          And she got heavy flak on Twitter for her nonsense.

          • Andrew Chmile

            Good!

      • Czech Mate

        In Czech we used to say “anekdota” as well but that is fading and considered more bookish and proper for everyday language these days.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    It’s likely that Lukashenko is reluctant to use excessive force against the protesters because his economy desperately needs cash, and the only source is the west. He can’t get any from Dwarfstan, because Dwarfstan is running out of cash. Any crackdown would reduce the chance of western cash.
    The dwarf won’t be reluctant to use force and any sign that Dwarfstan will “lose” Belarus after “losing” the Ukraine forever will undoubtedly result in a Dwarfstanian invasion and annexation.

    • veth
      • Alex George

        Thanks, interesting article. It is clear that something is badly wrong in the Russian space program – numerous and embarrassingly public explosions testify to that. Meanwhile, Ukrainian engines in the Vega space rocket just keep on launching, with never a problem…

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          The new space centre in Dwarfstan’s Far East has also run into numerous delays and cost overruns. The latter have no doubt been caused by massive pilfering of both materials and rubbles. One also wonders whether “tufta” isn’t a contributing factor to the delays and cost increases. Old Soviet habits die hard.

    • RedSquareMaidan

      They are also finding out it is hard to stop social media and the old ways of paying informants won’t work anymore.

  • zorbatheturk

    It smells like something interesting may be about to happen in Belarus.

    • Andrew Chmile

      BTW —–
      I am so astonished! :)

      It looks like Russia hired internet trolls to pose as pro-Trump Americans

      http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-internet-trolls-and-donald-trump-2016-7

      • Oknemfrod

        Yeah, what a surprise …

      • zorbatheturk

        RuSSian trolls are everywhere posting their nonsense and BS.

        • Andrew Chmile

          and “Alex George” — The LYING RUSKI ***MOLE*** just up-voted you! :)))

  • zorbatheturk

    Putin is not going to make Gorby’s mistake. He has stockpiled enough ammo to start World Wars 3, 4, and 5.