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Belarus As An Old-School Sphere Of Influence.

The die has been cast. Belarus, next year, is scheduled for an epic showdown in the ongoing march of liberty around the world.

Russian News & Information Agency (NOVOSTI) believes the writing is on the wall in Belarus; the repressive (.pdf) Lukashenko regime's days are numbered, and, at this point it is only a matter of time allowing history to unfold:

Russia fears relying even on pro-Russian centrist forces in Belarus, thinking that this could lead to Russia's geopolitical defeat.

Rahr said Lukashenko's behavior resembled that of a Central Asian autocratic leader. But Central Asian republics have oil and gas, which they can sell to the West and spare their leaders. Lukashenko has nothing with which to buy Western sympathy or condescension.

The Belarussian opposition has established political contacts with the outside world and Lukashenko's authoritarian policy has helped it to rally. Several years ago, the opposition was mostly a dissident group, but now it is increasingly becoming a political opposition challenging the authorities.

Lukashenko is losing Russia's support, Rahr said, by hindering integration and making mistakes in economic cooperation. The events in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where desperation provoked by social and economic hardships forced the people to protest openly, are also possible in Belarus.


Meanwhile, Interfax explains that the Belarussian opposition will sample from the strategies of Ukraine's Orange Revolution in its 2006 presidential election:

One of the Belarussian opposition leaders, Anatoly Lebedko, told a Friday press conference in Kyiv that the electoral campaign in Belarus will be very intense, but the opposition may succeed in taking Alexander Lukashenko down form the post of president.

"We have a strong political will to make 2006 an important year and we intend to fight for victory," Lebedko said.

The opposition must field a credible candidate, which may or may not be Anatoly Lebedko:

Belarussian political forces are holding consultations on a common opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential elections, opposition co-leader Anatoly Lebedko told a Friday press conference in Kiev.

“There are Belarussian politicians who can become worthy opponents to the incumbent chief of state,” he said. “If there is such a candidate, Alexander Lukashenko will have slim chances to win.”

Lebedko referred to recent opinion polls, which showed that only 42% of the respondents were ready to support Lukashenko.

Some background on Lebedko:

Lebedko is not yet known outside of opposition circles. Unlike the new Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, Lebedko is not wealthy and has never been prime minister. But he does share one experience with the Ukrainian: Both men have come close to death at the hands of foes.

Last Oct. 18, Lebedko joined 5,000 protesters on Minsk's October Square demonstrating against elections that were marred by ballot-box stuffing, intimidation of candidates and falsification of election returns.

Lebedko was an obvious target: At 43, he heads the pro-free-market United Civic Party and is the front-runner for the democratic Five-Plus Coalition's presidential nomination.

Lebedko says security agents forced him into a pizza parlor across the street from October Square. They beat him for several minutes, then he fell unconscious. He remembers waking up in the restaurant and the police chief slapping him in the face. Then he blacked out again and awoke in a moving car. After arriving at the police station, he said, he felt ill and was taken to a hospital.

Nurses urged Lebedko's wife Svetlana not to leave the patient's side. "They said someone should always watch what medicines they were putting in me,'' Lebedko said, alluding to the secret police lurking in the hospital corridors. After five days in the hospital, Lebedko spent three weeks at home recuperating. The attack - and his ongoing perseverance - elevated him from a cerebral, almost gentle former student of French history to a serious political contender.


Vladimir Putin must ask himself whether Lukashenko, and keeping Belarus under the wing of the Russian Bear, is worth the international scorn. If Putin sticks his neck out again, like he did in supporting Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine late last year, it will almost certainly lead to yet another embarrassing geopolitical loss. The risk of another miscalculation, this time in Belarus, could even potentially impact domestic politics in Russia. Bringing Belarus back under the Russian aegis, meanwhile, would be a big win for Putin, strengthening his hand both at home and in the other nations formerly behind the Iron Curtain. Thus, the stakes are high in Belarus. Putin will either go all in, or fold; we will likely know how Russia will play its cards long before the election.

Lukashenko will probably not go down without a messy, perhaps even bloody, fight; while the Belarussian opposition will model itself on the effective opposition in Ukraine, Belarus is far less democratic, its dictator far more brutal, therefore its democratic reformers will have to work that much harder-- and smarter, to achieve their goals.

President Bush, meanwhile, having signed the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004, asserted that the "fate of Belarus will rest not with a dictator, but with the students, trade unionists, civic and religious leaders, journalists, and all citizens of Belarus claiming freedom for their nation."


The American Spectator has more on Lukashenko and Belarus.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 May 2005 01:02 PM


Lukashanko has his fist up. He has a huge fist! I certainly wouldn't want to get into a fight with him! Yikes.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 29, 2005 08:44 PM

No war for oil?

Posted by: Lowery21 at May 29, 2005 10:18 PM

No war for oil?

Posted by: Lowery21 at May 29, 2005 10:19 PM

No war for oil?

Posted by: Lowery21 at May 29, 2005 10:20 PM

I felt strongly enough to post three times. Think about it.

Posted by: Lowery21 at May 29, 2005 10:49 PM

I have thought about it. I still for the life of me do not understand what you are talking about? Can you explain further with facts? This war is not about oil and never has been!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 30, 2005 07:50 AM

I was being sarcastic...and I accidentally posted three times. The courage it took to advance liberty and freedom in Iraq is reverberating around the world with unmistakable clarity. It is a fascinating and beautiful thing...and blowing up in the face of those who said it was a "war for oil".

Posted by: Lowery21 at May 30, 2005 12:38 PM

Lowery21 you can say that again!...

Posted by: Bill at May 30, 2005 01:32 PM

i am an idiot and i am lead by richard simmons

Posted by: idiot at June 12, 2005 09:46 PM

Posted by: legal mp3 at June 30, 2005 12:31 PM