Minsk complains about pressure from Moscow

The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has accused Putin of using high energy prices to pressure his country to unite with Russia. Observers have long suspected that Putin is planning to run for president of the new state this would create in 2024. What do the Belarusians think of the idea?

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Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Belarusians tend to look to the West

In Novaya Gazeta, Vitali Shliarov, an internationally active political strategist from Belarus, explains why the majority of the Belarusian population is against unification with Russia:

“Russia forming a union state on Belarusian terms, a reform of the Russian economy and policies according to the Belarusian model - people who vote for Lukashenko could perhaps accept such a course. But not a union state on Russian terms. The young generation, those who look further into the future than a few months ahead, see Belarus as a European state. The young are clearly poised for integration with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and other Western countries. … Because that's where they go to study and work, and that's where they're building up their contacts.”

NV (UA) /

Lukashenko's three options

Journalist Ivan Yakovyna outlines the options available to Lukashenko in Novoye Vremya:

“The first is the path of shame: to hand over the whole country to Putin but give himself and his descendants a secure life in Moscow. The second option is to resist. In this variant, however, he will almost certainly lose, and that means losing everything. Thirdly, however, he can hold truly democratic early elections. After which he can peacefully hand over his country to a successor, who in turn can ask the West for help in order to preserve the country's independence.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Fate depends on the west

Belarus's fate depends on Europe, Rzeczpospolita believes:

“It looks like the economically inefficient Belarus is at a turning point. The Russians have it in their claws. They can destroy it and take it over with gas and oil prices, which would lead among other things to the development of military structures in areas that are now unused militarily. Lukashenko, however, is resisting. He has repeatedly said no to Putin, even announcing the creation of an independent Belarusian television station to counter Kremlin propaganda. The West must make a tough decision now. Should it support Lukashenko and thus preserve Belarus's independence or turn its back on the dictator?”

Lrytas (LT) /

Will there be a Belarusian Maidan?

The former head of the Lithuanian State Security Service Mečys Laurinkus sees a protest movement similar to the Ukrainian Maidan emerging in Belarus. He writes on the news website lrytas.lt:

“The situation for Lukashenko is completely different from what it was five years ago. The economy is moving towards a crash, and Lukashenko's entourage has no intention of plunging headlong into the abyss along with its unexchangeable leader. Lukashenko isn't naive, he understands that sooner or later he'll have to step down, and preferably not according to the Maidan model. In my opinion, however, that is exactly what is developing in Belarus.”

newsru.com (RU) /

Russia too unattractive

In a blog post published by newsru.com, social psychologist Alexei Roshchin shows understanding for Minsk's defensive stance:

“Russia's main shortcoming is its lack of appeal. Who on earth would want 'integration' with our country? There's no freedom or science here, let alone an independent judiciary, and no other sector apart from that which pumps fuel out of the earth has been successful. It's said that Belarus (as well as Ukraine) haven't excelled in any areas either. True, but then why would they want to be 'integrated' into our country? ... It's clear that for a small country to want to join another one, that country must be large, strong and above all very attractive.”