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« (Some) TV Makes You Smarter. | WILLisms.com | Two Must-Reads On Social Security. »

"Today Ukraine, Tomorrow Belarus."

Things are heating up, ever so subtly, in Belarus.

Last week, we noted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's comment regarding Belarus being Europe's last dictatorship, as well as her assertion that "it is time for democracy to come to Belarus."

How did Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenka respond?


In an address to his countrymen, he noted he would crack down on any emerging democratic political movement that might pose a threat to his power:

Referring to the 2002 Rose Revolution in Georgia, the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the recent political switchover in Kyrgyzstan, Lukashenka said no such option is doable in Belarus. "All those color revolutions were in fact no revolutions," he asserted. "It was sheer banditry under the disguise of democracy. The limit of such revolutions was fully exhausted by the Belarusian people in the past century."

Lukashenko understands that democratic opposition movements in countries like Belarus are often funded by outside organizations, mostly based in the United States. Accordingly, he issued an ominous threat, likely a bluff:

No bandits, no revolutionaries, and no money will be able to operate in Belarus. Today, they bring this money into Belarus in sacks and suitcases. We know, and if we remain silent, this does not mean we don't know.

In fact, the Belarussian government may very well have choreographed a staged event, just so Lukashenka could utter those words.

The plot thickens:

When Lukashenka spoke about bags of money, he meant it literally. On 17 April, just one day before the presidential address, the government-controlled First National TV aired shots of two people, reportedly Lithuanians who had been arrested smuggling $200,000 into Belarus from Lithuania. The supposed recipient was Siarhey Skrabets, a member of Respublika, the only opposition group in the former parliament. (There are none now.) Baltic News Service quoted an anonymous source in the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, who called the incident a setup aimed both at the Belarusian opposition and Lithuania. The source said neither of the men arrested were Lithuanians, nor were they arrested in a train from Vilnius, as Belarusian television claimed.

Lukashenka lashed out at the United States, as well, in a thoroughly bizarre manner:

To make up for the lack of appropriate U.S.-related topics, Lukashenka mocked the allegedly futile attempts by Washington to discover his secret bank accounts. (Under the Belarus Democracy Act passed by the U.S. Congress in October 2004, the U.S. president is obliged to present annual reports to the U.S. Congress on the personal assets and wealth of Lukashenka and other senior Belarusian government officials.)

"What, can't you find [my bank accounts]?" Lukashenka sneered at Washington on 19 April. "You got at Iraq, smashed the country, but are unable to find the accounts. Well? It is $11 billion, not a laughing matter!" Which is funny and mystifying at the same time. Neither the Belarusian opposition nor Washington have ever mentioned such a specific sum in the context of Lukashenka's possible covert wealth. Was it not a Freudian slip of the tongue on the part of the Belarusian president?

After making his blustery and paranoid address, Lukashenka flew off to the comfort of the former heart of the Soviet empire, Moscow, to meet with Vladimir Putin.

Now, as Publius Pundit points out, the Belarussian opposition is stirring:

It’s a little opportunist, but the Belarussian opposition has to take advantage when it can! They took the anniversary of Chernobyl and turned it into a rally against Lukashenko.



One of the banners held by protesters read:

"Today Ukraine, tomorrow Belarus!"

Meanwhile, Students for Global Democracy has announced its "Bell Campaign: Belarus Endowment for Life and Liberty."


While the inertia of democracy may run into a brick wall from time to time in Africa and elsewhere, Belarus is a prime candidate for a democratic revolution in 2006. The odds of Lukashenka surviving politically through President Bush's second term are shrinking rapidly.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 April 2005 10:51 PM


I love those Dictators!... Can you say propaganda? I am sure alot of it will be going around so his power won't be threatened quite so much...Those silly Dictators!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at April 27, 2005 07:42 AM

Alexander Lukashenka best President on the world!

Posted by: Папа_Римский at May 21, 2005 04:25 PM