Minsk steps back to international and public pressure over White Legion case

Category status:
July 04, 2017 11:14
Фото: "Новы Час"

The Belarusian authorities are de-escalating the "patriots' case" aka the White Legion case to stop criticism from the west over human rights violations in Belarus. The Belarusian authorities have demonstrated greater adaptability and reduced the repression-liberalisation cycle in the domestic policy in order to retain positive trend in relations with the EU. Nevertheless, the White Legion case has not been closed yet. The president could make concessions to the power block with verdicts against some activists, which would not envisage imprisonment.

Last week, the Belarusian authorities released Miroslav Lozovsky, the last defendant in the White Legion case, from the pre-trial detention centre in Minsk.

The release of the defendants in the White Legion case just a few days before the OSCE PA session has brought some confusion with regard to the tough resolution on democracy, human rights and the Belarusian NPP prepared by Western diplomats. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities have reduced the ‘repressive’ period, taking into account the peculiarities of bureaucratic processes in the EU, which would prevent European capitals from coordinating their positions on the Belarusian issue and preserve the Belarusian-European normalization. In addition, Minsk is likely to focus on strengthening its positions regarding the Nuclear Power Plant construction, in anticipation of harsh criticism from Lithuania.

Following the suppression of protests in February and March 2017, the Belarusian authorities have gradually abandoned arrests, preventive detentions, the use of force against their opponents and returned to milder form of persecution of the opposition, such as fines. Apparently, the authorities fear that public pressure over the White Legion case and public actions in support of the defendants could trigger unnecessary attention of broader population after a high-profile propaganda effect during the protest period. This, in turn, could have undermined the confidence in the state media and security agencies (which have already been involved in some high-profile incidents recently), and could also lower the ratings of other state institutions.

Meanwhile, the president would not disregard the interests of the power block either, in particular, amid economic decline and scant wage growth. The White Legion case has not been closed and some defendants still have open charges of creating an illegal armed group against them. After the OSCE PA session closes in Minsk, the authorities could get back on the track in this regard. However, most likely, even if trials take place, the defendants are likely to receive a milder punishment and would be released in the courtroom.

Overall, the Belarusian authorities may further stretch and shorten the repression/liberalisation cycle to accommodate their needs and to prevent undesirable reactions from the West. In addition, the White Legion case could remain frozen for several months until the autumn-winter political campaign.

Similar articles

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.

Recent trends

cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china cheap nba jerseys from china wholesale nba jerseys from china discount nba jerseys from china