In the summer of 2020, Belarus held presidential elections. According to many experts, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya received a victory. The falsification of the elections results was followed by massive protests that almost subsided till the beginning of 2021. This transformation of Belarusian society became an unexpected and unpleasant surprise for the authorities, who used all possible tools to stop protests (e.g. by massive repression, layoffs, imprisonment, and even assassinations).
As a result of the latest political crisis, the absolute majority of Belarusian opposition politicians or were imprisoned or forced to emigrate.
Several significant arrests occurred in Belarus only during May 2021.
On May 22, six staff members of the Polish satellite TV channel “Belsat” that broadcasts in Belarusian, were arrested. The same happened to 15 employees of well-known Internet-portal TUT.by just a few days before.
On May 23, breaking EU aviation guidelines, Roman Protasevych, former Editor-in-Chief at oppositional channel NEXTA, and his girlfriend were captured at the Minsk airport. They traveled from Athens to Vilnius on the board of a Ryanair airplane, which was made to land by a Mig-29 fighter. The international community was seriously indignant.
Two Belarusian and four Russian citizens, probably representatives of Belarusian KGB and Russian GRU, got off the plane as well. Protasevich could face the death penalty if charged with terrorism.
After these events, Belarus found itself even more in de facto international isolation. The only strategic partner of the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Lukashenko is Putin’s Russia.
However, according to intelligence services, relations with the Kremlin have also transformed. If earlier Lukashenko managed to maintain some kind of independence, now he has been put into a stiff frames, and Putin’s assistance is provided only in response to the Moscow’s required steps.. In particular, the increase in military cooperation between the members of the States Union and the deepening of the Belarusian economic dependence on Russia. The goal is also to change the political vector of the protest movement to the East and, at the same time, to demonize NATO and the West as a threat to the country’s security. Thus, on April 17, Lukashenko accused the United States of organizing an armed uprising and assassinating him and his children. And the FSB supported this statement, declared that the military coup was prepared with the participation of Ukrainian and local nationalists.
In addition, the official propaganda undertook to fight against all national guidelines, including the Belarusian language, symbols, and the desire for independence. Now there are fines for white-red-white symbols (symbol of the Belarusian national movement) or a combination of these colors, even on private balconies:
Also in the fall of 2020, Lukashenko began the process of writing a new constitution. Many experts say that it is due to significant pressure from Moscow’s curators.
The process of parties creating
No new party has been registered in Belarus in the last 20 years (although there have been such attempts, the local Ministry of Justice has denied registration to all).
In general, parties in Belarus are formal structures and have no real power, but the situation may change as a result of constitutional reform. That is why at the beginning of 2021 the active process of creating new political formations started.
Particularly, a whole pool of parties directly connected with Moscow or Alexander Lukashenko is in the process of registration.
First of all, “Soyuz” (“The Union”) party, produced by agents of Russian influence, involved in the activities of the self-proclaimed DPR/LPR (occupied part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine) took an active role.
Thus, the party congress was attended by Dmitry Belik from Sevastopol, Russian State Duma deputy, an active collaborator who contributed to the annexation of Crimea, and Alexander Kazakov (was an assistant to the leader of the “DPR” Aleksey Zakharchenko) and Viktor Yatsenko (former Minister of Communications of the DNR), both are representatives of the Russian party “Fair Russia – For Truth”. They conveyed an official greeting from their leader Zakhar Prilepin. The party was led by Sergei Lushch, a well-known Russian Nazi in Belarus.
Even so, despite the predictions of experts who were convinced that in the current conditions and relations with Russia, the party would be registered, this did not happen. Using formal reasons, the Ministry of Justice refused to register “The Union”. The party has already stated that they will correct all errors and go through the registration procedure again.
“The Democratic Union” Party
Its creation was announced by Yuri Voskresensky, a participant in the Belarusian protests in the summer of 2020 and who was working at the headquarters of one of the candidates, Viktor Babaryko. Voskresensky was arrested and imprisoned for two months. After his imprisonment, he became an active supporter of Lukashenko and became popularly known as the “mouth of the KGB.” According to him, the party he creats will consist of protesters “who stopped in time” and “started watching the proper TV.”
“The People’s Unity Party”
It is created based on the pro-presidential public organization “Belaya Rus”, which has been active for the last 10 years. According to the information, the party should become an analog of “United Russia” (the pro-government party of the Russian Federation) in Belarus.
“The People’s Rights” Party
According to The Insider, which specializes in investigative journalism, Moscow has begun working with a certain Belarusian “asset” to create a new party. It is planned that the party with the working title “The People’s Right” will oppose Lukashenko, but strive for integration with Russia.
The Kremlin’s plans for Belarus are described in documents obtained by investigators. That’s the personal correspondence and documents from the Office of the President of Russia for Interregional and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, headed by General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Vladimir Chernov.
In particular, it lists the areas of influence, social and political projects, resources, assets in the media, as well as those responsible for maintaining Russia’s influence in Belarus.
Due to the program published in the media, Moscow plans to direct public discontent towards constitutional reforms, thus hoping that Belarusians will forget about the stolen elections. The documents also say that the Kremlin plans Belarus’ transition to a parliamentary-presidential republic and large-scale privatization of the public sector.
The future constituent documents of the party and a list of 7 people who should become its leaders were published on the publication’s website. All seven are citizens of Belarus but are active members of the so-called “The United Russia” club.
Author: Boris Grachev