Anatoly HAVRYSH, the “FACTS”
Traditional Belarusian opposition before the presidential elections decided to hold primaries to elect a single candidate, capable to give battle to Alexander Lukashenko. However, among the comrades there is no agreement: starred Pavel Seviarynets, who many predicted to be the winners of the primaries, stating that he would not participate in such demonic productions as “elections to the pesthouse”. (In an interview with “FACTS” Sieviaryniets was cited three reasons that deter Putin from direct annexation of Belarus). Soon after he was arrested for advocating civil disobedience. And in may and others have cancelled participation in the primaries, officially explaining that holding elections in the midst of a pandemic is a crime.
Why actually the opposition are unable to decide on a single candidate, the “FACTS” explained political analyst at the Ukrainian Institute of the future Igar Tyszkiewicz. Earlier, he told how Lukashenko “smeared” the Putin thesis about the key role of Russia in the victory in world war II.
— If to speak about the Belarusian opposition — it is in deep crisis: financial, human, a crisis of ideas. This is the first. Second, the idea of primaries was interesting enough, but it demonstrated another crisis is the inability of. Because the leaders of the opposition at the initial stage agreed on the format, including open meetings. And public meetings suggest that there will be, and officials of Lukashenka’s administration, who are the voters. Then, of course, some began to acquire supporters, others lose, and there was uncertainty.
That is, the question here is not one Sevyarynets, but several leaders, some did not trust the results of the trips to the cities, others to the results of online voting. Though that this online platform is trusted, declared and signed the relevant documents.
If we talk about the human question, the crisis staff there. If financial, then a closed boundary is a restriction in the number and financial resources of the Belarusian opposition. I’m not going to talk about funding other countries, but dwindling income of the Belarusians who live abroad (and Belarusan immigration in Europe is large enough), is also a negative point.
Another point explaining why this opposition is due to the attitude of Western countries to the elections in Belarus. Unlike previous election campaigns, on the part of European and American elites cautiously began to accept the idea that the better a dictator than Belarus becomes part of Russia. It is there stated that the country was and is an authoritarian dictatorship, but cooperation with it develop. Moreover, as the United States of America, as the European Union as a whole and individual countries. For example, the Polish foreign Ministry said that in the next few years Belarus will become a priority in the foreign policy of Poland. It is also about saying something.
The position of key political partners, which equals the Belarusian opposition, is this: political support (and not just political), you will not get because at the moment the West took a pause, and a pause, which is more favorable to Lukashenko. And on the other hand, there is an internal crisis in the opposition parties.
— In spite of everything, in the presidential race still had a few interesting players. For example, blogger and businessman tikhanovski, who was arrested immediately after the statement of intent to participate in the elections. What he feared Lukashenko? After all, he was not even allowed to register their group for collection of signatures (to nominate a presidential candidate need to collect one hundred thousand signatures), then you send anonymous threats to his children and his wife Svetlana, who at the last moment was able to register such a group.
— I would not say that tikhanovski terrible. It was unpleasant to have worked with the mood of protest standard of the electorate Lukashenko. If you look at the rhetoric Tikhanovski — there is virtually no thesis, what he stands for. That is a very high-tech, well-built media project based on alternative means of delivering information, including social networking and YouTube.
Tikhanovski actually the frontman of a deployed network of YouTube channels, which, if I’m not mistaken, more than a dozen in Belarus. The scenario most rollers can be compared, for example, the Ukrainian show “Stoots skin”, where frequent stories of people with negative overtones. There’s just a parallel is drawn across Belarus. That is, standard television shows with personal stories that go well, transferred to YouTube.
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And this concept made it possible to mobilize a certain part of people, who were not previously interested in politics, or rather allowed to choose these people, because the discontent of citizens or certain anxious mood were irrespective of the presence or absence of these commercials. And it was a work on an audience base, the base electorate Lukashenko, because tikhanovski very reminiscent of Lukashenko, 1994: on the rhetoric, behavior and everything else.
But on the other hand, if you look at the events that took place, in principle, in the case with signatures Tikhanovski you can see and another thing — this is the process of collecting signatures, enabled the power in a sense to channel the protest sentiments of the base of the electorate Lukashenko. People first came, they looked, someone had signed up- then went to the point of repression. Because compared to what it was before, is that this repression is really the point, but they are there, of course.
Against this background, some activists just scared, thinking that “it’s not mine.” And when I went reprisals against those people who lit up in the rollers Tikhanovski, the part of the electorate also decided: “I will not take risks”. And since this campaign had no ideological message “what are we playing,” and the group begins to crumble little by little.
The situation with Tikhanovski not repaid the protests, they were, but they are canalized — sent to neproblemny direction. And today is just the same with this group the power of more-or-less worked. Yes, by repression, but in principle this group of voters is now less dangerous for Lukashenko than the rest.
— Whether Lukashenko believes his rival Victor Babariko so dangerous that after he gathered 400 thousand signatures, followed by hitting the “Belgazprombank”, where the introduced external administration, and then personally searched Babariko, the detention of his son, the arrest of accounts and charges of tax evasion and money laundering?
— Lukashenka does not consider Babariko or Tsepkalo its strong competitors — it is considered to be primarily the influence of the Russian Federation. Anyway, Babariko head “Belgazprombank” — are actually “daughter” of “Gazprombank”. Lukashenko is afraid of drift inside its own vertical of power, and Babariko has, among other things, and mid-level officials. It is a weakness of Lukashenko, for which he feared.
Lukashenko rather afraid of Babariko, and those who can for him to stand, possible Russian influence. However, Babariko has its own financial resources for the development of a political project that will be able to play a longer role, not only in the presidential election. Accordingly, it is a danger, a threat.
That is why the persecution began against the “Gazprombank”. But it is wrong to say that the persecution has arisen now. “Belgazprombank”, owned by “Gazprom”, has long been untouchable in the Republic of Belarus Bank. I think you understand that the banking institution that in its protected status from active actions of law enforcers and regulatory bodies, becomes attractive to many representatives of the Belarusian business.
But this does not mean that “Belgazprombank” did not collect the information because any prosecution and searches to confiscation, of course, impossible to carry out without prior surveillance. Belarusian authorities say it all began in 2016. Though I guess it all started in 2018, when the Russian Ambassador to Belarus, arrived Mr. Babich.
Given the deterioration of relations with Moscow, now there is a dispute with Gazprom on prices for gas is that Lukashenko can raise rates. Therefore, the “Belgazprombank” is a more complex case, where there is the promise of the Russian authorities. At least in Minsk there are rumors that another Bank with Russian capital “Belpromstroibank — Sberbank” sharp began the process of shifts Supervisory Board, some people didn’t want to be in it.
So it may well be that the promise of a Russian financial authorities about the interference in Belarusian Affairs. The second is the promise of “Gazprom”. And the third is additional resources or an additional argument in negotiations with Gazprom on prices for gas. Because “Belgazprombank” is a Bank which provides services to “Gazprom transgaz Belarus”, that is, the transportation system, which belongs to “Gazprom”. And if you keep all the finances of your opponent in a dispute is under control, it is very advantageous negotiating position.
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Here several elements. And the key, in my opinion, it’s still the factors of relations with the Russian Federation. Plus, this is another Russian intervention in the electoral system, because the initiative group of Babariko there are a few people who continue to work in the structure of “Belgazprombank”. You understand that if a person works in the state Bank of the Russian Federation, to participate in the election campaign in another country, he can only under one condition: if the management of the Bank is not in Minsk, but in Moscow at least is neutral about it.
— Why does Lukashenka need to do to extrude is not even presidential candidates, and the candidates prospective candidates for the presidency, if it is then count in favor of Lukashenko?
— Another question — in protest moods. And the point is not the identity of the candidates to become presidential candidates, and to work with the protest electorate. Many people who were not previously interested in politics, now engaged in collecting signatures. The power in an authoritarian state is trying to show how it sounds. That’s all.
— At the level of intimidation?
Partly intimidation, partly on the level to prevent the creation of associations which can develop into a political project.
— From the presidential race came Oleg Gaidukevich, which said that he, along with Vic Tsepkalo and Babariko could compete with Lukashenka. Moreover, according to expressed support for Lukashenko. This was specifically created a technical candidate or him, as now Svetlana Tikhanovski, made an offer, “you can’t refuse”?
— Galleon is a standard sparring partner Lukashenko, first senior (the father of Oleg — Sergey Gaydukevich — three participated in the presidential election and another campaign withdrew his candidacy. — A. G.)and then the youngest. This is an old technical project of Belarusian authorities.
And won’t you do the same Valery Tsepkalo — ally Lukashenko since his first election? Or now under the pressure of Babariko?
— Do not exclude. Given that Belarus is actively discussing future changes to the Constitution, strengthening political parties, I assume that one of these people can be a political project of the presidential administration of Belarus on creation of the alleged opposition party. To assemble in a certain structure of people, critical-minded to the authorities, but that these sentiments could again be direct, be made manageable .But let’s not guessing, we will see at the end of August.
To what extent can we believe the polls showing the level of support for Lukashenko in the three percent?
Are polls on various Internet sites. I just want to remind the situation at the beginning of 2019 polls in Facebook groups that supported Poroshenko or Zelensky. In some groups was the result that 90 percent would vote for Poroshenko, and in the other 90 percent for Zelensky. It’s not sociology is a survey in the areas of information.
— That is three percent support gave the protest electorate that visits the Internet site?
Yes. Second, in the Belarusian press leaked the data from private polls, who did the Institute of sociology of NAS of Belarus, where the level of confidence in Lukashenka is around 24 percent. I think you understand that the level of trust is always much below the real level of electoral support. If Lukashenko was as of mid-may, the level of confidence 24%, respectively, the level of electoral support was at least half as much.
As previously reported “FACTS”, it was assumed that presidential elections in Belarus will be held on 30 August 2020, at the day of 66-th anniversary of Alexander Lukashenko. But they were appointed on 9 August. Apparently (despite the theoretical possibility of a second round — not later than 23 August) to a birthday to conduct the inauguration ceremony.
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