Official Minsk interested in Ukraine successfully holding early presidential elections

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April 22, 2016 18:50

The Belarusian authorities are supportive of the Ukrainian authorities’ decision to hold early presidential elections on May 25th this year and to stabilize the situation in Ukraine’s southeast. Belarus will send her monitors to observe the vote in Ukraine, which, in her view, might ensure Kiev authorities’ loyalty and might improve her relations with the West. However, the recognition by Belarus of the presidential election results will depend on Russia’s stance and developments in the southeast of Ukraine.

The Belarus’ Central Election Committee has received an invitation to observe the presidential elections in Ukraine.

Belarus has supported the Kiev authorities’ decision to hold the presidential elections on May 25th this year, underscoring that it is “the inherent sovereign right of the Ukrainian people”.

The Belarusian authorities plan to send their observers to the upcoming elections in Ukraine “as the national delegation and within the framework of election observation missions by regional organisations". Belarus’ Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mironchik emphasised that “Ukraine desperately needs a stable government whose legitimacy will be based on the outcome of free elections.”

The Belarusian authorities are interested in the prompt conflict resolution in Ukraine, since it has already started having a negative impact on the Belarus’ economy and has increased Belarus’ risks amid unpredictable foreign policy of the Kremlin. 

The protracted conflict in Ukraine has negative consequences for the Belarusian-Ukrainian trade and economic relations. For example, in January-March 2014, trade between the two countries fell by almost 15%, Belarusian exports fell by 7% and imports – by 30%. Ukraine is Belarus’ the second largest trade partner in terms of turnover, and in terms of significant trade surplus.

The Russo-Ukrainian conflict has increased Belarus’ dependence on the Kremlin’s policy. Unlike in previous years, Belarus’ investment costs in the ‘Eurasian integration’ have increased considerably compared with the received benefits. Besides, Russia’s resources have also been dwindling after her invasion of Ukraine and she has fewer means to buy the loyalty of the neighbouring states, including Belarus.

It should be noted, that the Belarus’ president attempted to disavow the statements he made after the meeting in Moscow, which were closely repeating the Russian propaganda as regards events in Ukraine’s southeastern regions. At a meeting with the Ukrainian Ambassador Mykhailo Yezhel on May15th, President Lukashenko reiterated that his previous statements concerning Ukraine’s territorial integrity, undesirability of her federalisation and recognition of the authorities in Kiev remained unchanged: “Ukraine has to remain a united state. Her 45 million population is our brotherly nation”.

Having Belarus’ official observers at the presidential elections in Ukraine implies that the authorities in Minsk may count on the loyalty of the new authorities in Kiev, which will be particularly important when the presidential campaign kicks off in Belarus in 2015. In addition, the Belarusian authorities aspire that related viewpoints with the European Union might improve contacts with Brussels without additional conditions.

Depending on the Moscow’s stance and peculiarities of the vote in the southeastern Ukraine, the authorities in Minsk may recognize the elections’ outcomes however with certain reservations. Meanwhile, regardless of what they say, the Belarusian leadership is interested in developing the Belarusian-Ukrainian economic relations.

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During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.

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