When a foreign state buys off officials in another country, it’s more than just bribery

Belarusian and Russian rulers Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin

Belarusian and Russian rulers Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin 

International, Op-ed

Andrey Dynko, a Belarusian commentator, has reminded the world of something many would like to ignore: when a foreign state, in this case, Russia, bribes someone at or near the top of a foreign country, as has happened in his country most recently, this is more than bribery, it is subversion.

“What does it mean when the chief of the security service of the country is working for another country?” the Nasha niva columnist asks. “It means that that country has all, even the most delicate information, about the president” and can use it against him and his country at will.

And that is the case even if the money comes not from a foreign government directly but from a firm in a foreign country that is controlled by or under the influence of that government. The consequences are much the same, however much some in many countries seek to highlight the difference.

Belarus (green), Ukraine (yellow) and Russia (red)

Belarus (green), Ukraine (yellow) and Russia (red)

What has happened in recent days is the “logical” outcome of what has been going on in Belarus for a long time, Dynko says. “For a long time under the present time, it wasn’t clear where Belarus ended and where Russia began. An FSB officer became head of the KGB, there were times when at the head of all force structures stood people who were not born in Belarus.”

“Citizens were raised to think in a similar way: ‘a Belarus is a Russian man. Belarus and Russia are a single hole. Dependence on Russia is in fact independence,’” an Orwellian formulation if there ever was one, on a par with “slavery is freedom.”

Much is being said about the 146,000 US dollars a Russian firm reportedly paid to a senior security officer close to Alyaksandr Lukashenka and about the far larger sums that Russians of various descriptions paid to the head of Belarus’s radio and television service. But the fundamental reality is not the money but the control it brings.

That is a lesson no one in Belarus should fail to learn and that no one in any other country should fail to draw lest it be extended to those who may have received money from Russian sources nominally for one reason or another.

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Edited by: A. N.

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