Case of Amriev: Minsk has discredited itself in eyes of international community
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to demonstrate to the Kremlin their reliability as a partner in sensitive issues. Conventionally, the Belarusian authorities prioritise practical solutions to compliance with formalities in emerging matters. However, what seems quite reasonable in Minsk, may negatively affect the country’s reputation in the outer world.
Last week, Belarus extradited Murad Amriev, a Russian citizen and the world champion in the Mixed Martial Arts, to the Russian authorities. Previously, the Belarusian authorities had extradited the driver of a Russian opposition politician Denis Voronenkov, who was recently assassinated in Kyiv, to the Russian secret services. Such extraditions form a common practice in Belarus.
Pragmatism bordering unscrupulousness creates difficulties in positioning Belarus as an independent player. By violating her international obligations and domestic extradition procedures in the interests of the Russian secret services, Belarus has damaged her reputation in the eyes of international community. In addition, the lack of official commentaries about the detention and extradition of Russian citizens could create an impression that the Belarusian authorities have no control over their power bodies. Indirectly, such a behaviour works in favour of conspiracy theories about the Kremlin’s unlimited influence in Belarus, especially amid the Russian authorities’ refusal to extradite Belarusian national Yuri Baranchik, accused of fomenting ethnic hatred for writing for Russian chauvinistic information resources, to Belarus. Such a difference in approaches emphasizes the unequal nature of the Russo-Belarusian relations to the international community.
Minsk will not complicate relations with Moscow over Russian domestic issues, which have no direct effect on Belarus’ interests. Hardly being a rule of law state, Belarus in such situations is guided by practical considerations, rather than legal procedures. This undermines Belarus’ image as a state which complies with its commitments. Yet evet worse, the Belarusian authorities create an impression as being dependent, untrustworthy and capable of placing the wishes of Moscow or even the Russian regional authorities ahead of the domestic legislation.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.