Lukashenko in the spotlight of a diplomatic row
While talking to journalists on 26 April, the President Lukashenko impartially spoke about the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich, and also named the Chairman of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso with an insulting Russian word with extremely negative connotations.
The emotional reaction of the Belarusian President to an informal request to withdraw participation in an international donor conference in Kiev on April 19, attended by Mr. Barroso, had several implications for the regional policy projects involving Belarus.
Firstly, an attack on the first person in Ukraine, which along with Belarus is involved in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Eastern Partnership, will apparently freeze the expected support of the Ukrainian Delegations to their Belarusian colleagues for an indefinite period of time. Previously Belarus managed to create the inner lobby in the EURONEST of the delegations of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which were calling for the equal participation of the Belarusian MPs in the EURONEST. Then Ukraine expressed a mild desire to side with Belarus, and now the political climate for such support has seriously deteriorated.
Secondly, the statement of Lukashenko is a marker of the bilateral relations between Belarus and Ukraine. In particular, Belarusian and Ukrainian experts believe, the dramatic deterioration of the diplomatic relations may impede the state border demarcation process, important for Ukraine, successful completion of which is impossible without the support from Belarus. This process needs to be completed for the Ukraine could fully participate in a number of integration projects with the EU.
Finally, thirdly, the Belarusian president made his statement on the day a meeting between presidents Medvedev and Yanukovich was held in the city of Chernobyl, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy. President Lukashenko planned to participate in the aforementioned events, but then stayed in Belarus. The Belarusian president’s ignoring of the high-level meetings speaks about a serious crisis of his international legitimacy. During his 4th presidential term as of 26 April, he had not paid any international visits. Indeed, the cutback on legitimacy was one of the reasons for the unexpected departure of Lukashenko to Turkmenistan on 27 April.
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.