Attack on the reputation of President Lukashenko
Russo-Belarusian relations remain turbulent. Both parties are interested in mutual concessions and use different tools to put pressure on each other.
On July 25th Russian Olympic Committee Head Alexander Zhukov outraged in his Tweeter the denial of accreditation for the XXX Olympic Games in London for President Lukashenko. Later this information was confirmed by the British Embassy in Minsk.
The obvious implication of the ‘outrage’ by the Russian Olympic Committee Chairman was to draw attention to the EU visa sanctions against Belarusian leadership. Rapid reaction from the British Foreign Office and silence of the Belarusian government implies that it could be a planned action in order to exert pressure on Minsk.
In turn, the Belarusian authorities were not interested in attracting additional attention to the status of President Lukashenko as persona non-grata. Earlier, the Belarusian President attempted to accredit for the Olympic Games however was denied via informal channels. Therefore, on July 12th, during the opening of the ‘Slavic Bazar’ music festival in Vitebsk Lukashenko regretfully called the Olympic Games a politicized event.
Therefore, it is likely that the Twitter intercession by Mr. Zhukov meant to put additional pressure on the Belarusian authorities, which hold complicated negotiations with Russia on a number of issues, the main and the most controversial of which is the privatization of Belarusian enterprises.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.