Ideological shift in Belarus due to national security concerns

Category status:
March 06, 2017 10:27
Аўтар здымка: Яўген Громаў

Lukashenka regards ideological sustainability of society and state institutions as the key factor in ensuring national security. As Russia has ‘privatised’ the Soviet history, Belarus is prompted to anchor in her own cultural and historical heritage, regardless of its essentially anti-Soviet nature.

Some time ago, President Lukashenka talked about the importance of the national history as an ideological basis for Belarus’ independence. He emphasized Belarus’ difference from the neighbouring Ukraine and Russia. Moreover, some government officials, including the KGB leadership, supported the need to recognize the crimes of the Soviet regime in Belarus.

In the past 22 years, the Belarusian regime relied on the Soviet ideological formula. Currently, however, Russia has monopolized the Soviet ideological legacy, which has largely merged with the Russian imperial myths, claiming that Belarus is an integral part of the "Russian World". In the given circumstances, Belarus’ further reliance on Soviet ideology becomes dangerous, as it supports the chauvinistic idea of Belarus being the ‘Historical Russia’ and would justify her annexation to modern Russia.

Power officials are the most ideologically indoctrinated part of society, especially the officer corps. That said, further promotion of the ideology, which denies historical subjectivity and statehood of Belarus among the security forces, poses a direct threat to the national security. The Belarusian authorities have no other option, but to phase out the Soviet ideological heritage from the national historical and cultural tradition, the written part of which dates back more than a 1000 years.

While attempting to root in the public consciousness the historical difference between Belarus and Russia, the Belarusian authorities are likely to base on the facts from the Belarusian history, which are at odds with the Russian historical myths. In particular, these include independent formation of the Belarusian state without reference to the Kievan Rus, which is regarded as Russia’s ancestor in the Kremlin; and the Communist repressions in Belarus in opposition to the neo-Soviet apologetics, which has gripped Russian society. In addition, Belarus may gradually expand education opportunities in the Belarusian language. However, due to the slowness of the Belarusian state machine, one should not expect rapid and radical changes in the humanitarian and ideological sphere.

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Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries entangle in confrontation spiral
October 02, 2017 11:57
Фото: RFRM

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.

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