Belarus – or White Russia – where it is on the map? What can you, my reader, tell me about this state? A couple of months ago, maybe the last year, I’ve read an interesting article in the Monocle review about the business environment and the expat life there. I doubt it was a promotional one, but anyway, it was interesting to discover that it is something going on in this corner of the world – is this part of Europe?, you might ask.
What I know for sure, without reading daily reports about Belarus is that there is a president called Aleksandr Lukashenko, a former director of a state-owned agricultural farm, who is in power since 1994. And who is organizing puppet elections for enjoying the wonderful pleasure of being reelected – with a vast majority, if possible, this time with a successful rate of almost 97%.
As in many puppet states, there are opposition parties whose candidates are allowed to compete, but if unhappy with the results, they are in danger to be put in prison and convicted for years in prison. And this is available for anybody daring to protest, as it happened on the streets of Minsk, December 19th: journalists, civic activists, or even foreign citizens of the former Empire.
The US and EU condemned the post-election crackdown and said the ballot itself had been flawed and international media extensively reported about the daily violences and the international reactions.
Is Russia – with whom Belarus had a long dispute in 2006 over the gas supplies in 2006 – a supporter of Lukashenko? This is hard to think that without Russia’s support, few of the countries with open communications channels with Minsk – Lukashenko will resist. Apparently, as in other situations, the discussions over gas is a completely separate business of the political dialogue. In comparison with other years, Moscow, and mainly prime-minister Vladimir Putin, is decided to avoid any new gas rows and by thus, giving a green light to Minsk to continue unhampered its repressive policies. A free Belarus will think about joining EU and NATO and will be a lost card from the poker full of the old Empire. A dangerous game for the future.