The struggle for independence from Russia as a primary appeal to voters before the elections

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20-26.04.2020
Image: gomel.amaks-hotels.ru

By Valeria Kostyugova

Russia shielding herself off from Belarus (and other allies) amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has not stopped Lukashenka from building his 6th presidential election campaign on Belarus’ fight for independence from Russia. Meanwhile, the scope of tension between Belarus and Russia has narrowed.

Last week, Belarus continued to argue with Russia over gas and buckwheat, whereas oil and nuclear issues were resolved amicably.

Belarus, taking advantage of a slump in oil prices, is buying Russian oil in anticipation to create reserves and earn more when prices go up again. Additionally, last week, the parties agreed on tariffs for reverse oil supplies through the Druzhba pipeline.

Negotiations on altering gas tariffs for gas transit through Russia to EEU member states and, accordingly, on lowering gas prices for Belarus did not bring any results. Bilateral talks with Russia on gas prices are still ongoing.

Regarding a loan for the construction of the Belarusian NPP, Belarus has reached a compromise, deterring the start of debt repayment for a year.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made it clear that Russia would reopen the border with Belarus after the outbreak and expressed hope that both states would reach an agreement on visa issues, removing the obstacles for the free movement of citizens within the Union State.

Last week, Lukashenka spoke about the upcoming election campaign, which would result in his 6th re-election as the Belarusian president. So far, he does not appear to be ready to postpone the elections or alter the conventional cornerstones of his campaign, that is, the fight for Belarus’ independence from Russia, the retention and support for the public sector of the economy, and the implementation of social policy through supporting the public sector. Additionally, there are signs that Lukashenka has joined the domestic political fight in Russia on the side of the Russian Revival Union and the Communist Party.