Is Lukashenka worried about the loyalty of the Belarusian siloviki?

Belarusian interior troops dispersing protesters in Minsk

Belarusian interior troops dispersing protesters in Minsk 

Analysis & Opinion, Belarus

Less than two weeks from when a joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise is scheduled to begin, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka reportedly raised the salaries and benefits of the officers in the siloviki, the kind of thing a leader concerned about their loyalty might do.

And that there is a basis for Lukashenka’s apparent concern is suggested by one opposition figure who suggests that “in the army of Belarus, pro-Putin and anti-Lukashenka attitudes rule,” a situation that if true might make it even more likely that Moscow could use the Zapad-2017 exercise as cover for regime change in its western neighbor.

Over the last week, Lukashenka has increased salaries, pensions, and other benefits for the military and the police by as much as 40 percent, a move that means the recipients will have an additional reason for loyalty to him since the increases will bring their standard of living close to Russian counterparts.

These moves, Belsat reports, have not been trumpeted on the government’s website lest such reports offend the hard-pressed Belarusian population for whom Lukashenka seems less concerned and whose attitude the Belarusian leader may believe is less critical to his survival than the feelings of the Belarusian siloviki.

Meanwhile, Nikolay Statkevich, a leader of the Belarusian opposition, says that “for the Belarusian army, the Russian president [Putin] is more authoritative than his Belarusian colleague [Lukashenka]” and that such a balance of attitudes makes the upcoming exercise even more dangerous than it otherwise might be.

On the one hand, if this is the case, it would make a Russian coup against Lukashenka easier if Moscow could count on the disloyalty to the Belarusian leader by Belarusian siloviki. And on the other, it could mean that Belarusian siloviki might work with Russian forces to help them create the basis for a subsequent Russian occupation of the country.

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  • Dagwood Bumstead

    It’s far more likely that the dwarf will go the whole hog (totus porcus) if he decides to get rid of Lukashenko, and simply annex Belarus. Luka has proved to be less than pliable and there’s no guarantee a successor will be any more pliable. Furthermore, there are several direct benefits to annexing Belarus, not least that the dwarf can sell it to the always gullible Dwarfstanians as correcting a historical injustice and a further step in restoring Dwarfstan’s “greatness”. Always handy when elections are less than a year away and the economy is tanking. He badly needs something to crow about, as the euphoria of “Krim nash” has worn off.
    Other benefits are: adding the Belarusian army to Dwarfstan’s, increasing its strength; a longer border with the Ukraine, giving Kyiv extra defence problems; extra bases from which to invade the Ukraine; being that much closer to the Kaliningrad enclave and making it much easier to seize land from Poland and/or Lithuania to create a land corridor to Kaliningrad.
    Disadvantages? None. There won’t be any resistance in Belarus, and the west, led by a lunatic in the White House and weaklings such as Merkel, will do nothing except scream a few verbal protests.

  • Микола Данчук

    What is the price of ones loyalty to ones country?
    Is there such a thing as a better tyrant?

  • zorbatheturk

    Putin and Luka both belong to the species of human cockroach.