2012 Elections: the opposition is as split as ever
On March 6, “Fair World” party announced that it will participate in the Parliamentary elections in the autumn 2012.
Following the statement by the “Fair World” party the opposition forces could be divided into at least four groups with different approaches to the participation in the campaign:
1. Active boycott of the nomination of candidates and their removal from the race right before the voting (UCP).
2. Full participation in the election campaign (“Fair World” party).
3. Boycott of the elections and organization of monitoring of violations (not registered Belarusian Christian Democracy party, not registered movement “Belaruski rukh” and the organizing committee of the People’s Assembly).
4. Unclear position of holding consultations with the “civil society” about the format of participation in the campaign (the remaining part of the so-called “Coalition of the six”: Belarusian Popular Front Party, “Tell the Truth!” civil campaign, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) and the “For Freedom” movement).
The fact that there are so many political actors with different interests 4 months prior to the start of the campaign, implies, most likely, that the opposition will fail to come up with a unified strategy.
Moreover, it is very likely that the split among the political opposition will continue and they will pursue own interests on a wider scale: be it organization of election monitoring or election of a new parliament.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.