Council of the National Revival Council of Belarus Limited to Information Work
On July 7, the Chairman of the National Revival Council Vladimir Baradach published another evaluation report on President Lukashenko’s policy via the Internet website Belaruspartisan. In his statement, he expresses fears that the Belarusian authorities are slowly putting the country on a war footing.
Despite the initial ambitions of former law enforcement officers to create a transition Belarusian government-in-exile, the initiative remains no more than a media campaign. The founders of the National Revival Council have not managed to gain political support either in Belarus or abroad. Their work is limited to information and media activities in the Internet.
Since the organising committee of the National Revival Council was presented in late May 2012, the initiative of the Belarusian former law enforcement officers who now live abroad has remained at the stage of an “auction bid”. None of the political forces in Belarus have joined the initiative so far. Also, the most known and influential political and civic movements gave it negative reviews.
Although Vladimir Baradach and Anufriy Ramanovich stress that most organisation work is carried out in secret to protect activists from the actions of the Belarusian security services, their statements only raise skepticism. The authors of the project to establish a shadow government-in-exile have set clear political goals: to change Lukashenko’s regime. However, the absence of political leaders in the project reduces the initiative’s credibility.
Members of the Revival Council have to maintain a minimal level of public interest towards their activities and they prefer to appeal to independent internet media. It should be pointed out that the main, and probably the only, spokesperson for the Council is a former special forces commander Colonel Baradach. He is famous for his extremely radical statements, for example, details of the disappearance in 1999 of the former head of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs Yuri Zakharenko (according to Baradach, Zakharenko was first tortured and then shot and burned.)
It is expected that without political support within Belarus and abroad, the founders of the National Revival Council will not be able to come up with newsworthy events. Therefore, the initiative is likely to come to nough.
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.