President Lukashenko promotes the Belarusian model in Russia
The Russian Duma elections revealed the weakness of the ruling party United Russia and Alexander Lukashenko could not resist the temptation to promote his model of authoritarian welfare state on the Russian political arena. He did not exclude his potential involvement in Russian politics.
On December 13, President Lukashenko gave an interview to a Russian radio station Russian news service.
The interview proved that the Belarusian President remained faithful to the idea of social and fair authoritarian modernization, which he set-off to the Russian oligarchic capitalism. Lukashenko could not resist the temptation to state that the Belarusian orderly and comfort, as well as discipline of state officials and employees and in social sphere could easily be implemented in Russia.
Moreover, the Belarusian President made a tribute to himself for social stability in Belarus. He tried to emphasize the benefits of his stand to Russia, where, following the parliamentary elections a number of unprecedented mass protests was held. With reference to the October Revolution, Lukashenko suggested that the Russian government risked losing control over the protests: “Ten thousand people turned Russia upside down”. Thereby Lukashenko also promoted his tough methods of dealing with street protests in Belarus in June-July 2011.
Finally, Lukashenko made an unexpected move and sent a liberal message to his Russian counterparts and Russian citizens, namely he said that if he were in the shoes of President Medvedev, he would have come out to the protesters at the Bolotnaya Square in Moscow (i.e. the mass rally held there on December 10).
Lukashenko’s words should not be taken seriously – it was an obvious populism due to the fact that for many years he had not met voters directly and communicated with the protestors via the law enforcement.
Belarusian President believes that his main political asset is allegedly close relationship with the first President of the Russian Federation and the “father” of Russian oligarchs Boris Yeltsin. Lukashenko also reminded that while creating the Union State, Boris Yeltsin, in principle, opened the door for the Belarusian president to become the head of the new state. However many years have passed since the death of Boris Yeltsin and these arguments of Lukashenko could be used in “memoirs”. However, the steering body of the Eurasian Economic Union gives officials close to Lukashenko food for thought about their careers after 2015. For instance, on 13 December the President has appointed former Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky as a member of the board for industry and agriculture of the CES. Other officials are also curious who will be appointed for other leading positions in this body. At the same time the Belarusian President rules out any possibility of continuity of power in Belarus.
Therefore, the key messages President Lukashenko intended to send to his Russian counterparts are as follows:
- Russian oligarchic model of governance leads to the stratification of society and social protests;
- Recent protests threaten Russian political system with change, following the example of the “Arab spring”;
- Belarusian model of authoritarian social welfare state guarantees social justice and social stability;
- It is not yet too late for Russia to implement the President Lukashenko’s model.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.