Belarus in a squeeze

After the meeting between Lukashenka and Putin in Sochi, the fate of Belarus remains uncertain. Europe's press agrees that good relations with Russia are vital for the country. At the same time, neither Lukashenka nor the opposition seem to be fitting partners for Moscow.

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Duma (BG) /

No future without Russia

Belarus cannot afford to cut economic ties with Russia, warns Duma:

“Belarus is one of the largest manufacturers of dairy products in Europe, but these are exclusively exported to Russia. Will the next Minsk government leave this market? The EU won't let Belarusian dairy farmers enter its market and they'll end up on the street - like in Ukraine, where pro-European farmers are now tearing their hair out because the EU came up with fictional quotas to prevent them from accessing its supposedly free market. Kyiv has cut economic ties with Russia and destroyed entire sectors of its economy. And now the Ukrainians are working by the hour as taxi drivers, cleaners, waiters or care givers in Central Europe. Tikhanovskaya is preparing the same fate for the Belarusians.”

NV (UA) /

A union with Moscow would not bring peace

Russian-born journalist Arkadiy Babchenko warns in Belarus against forming a common state with Russia:

“Your grandfathers never dreamed that if they were to lose their great-grandchildren, would one day fight in Afghanistan. ... All this happened just thirty years ago. You yourselves were in this crazy union state ... And in the new union army they will send your children to the Crimea as soldiers. Just as the children of those who ten years ago were still walking through the streets of my city with balloons and talking of peaceful protest are now being sent there. And so they have not become free people, but occupiers. ... Do you understand? You can only make one protest - the protest against the empire. For freedom and independence. And nothing else.”

Tvnet (LV) /

Why doesn't Lukashenka set up a straw man?

The online portal Tvnet examines how the long-time president could mantain his grip on power:

“One possibility would be for Lukashenka to nominate a straw man. ... Such a man would have to be strong enough to ensure stability in Belarus, but weak enough for Lukashenka to look much better in the wings than the new leader does in the public eye. ... The idea isn't new. There was a similar situation with both presidents from Venezuela: Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.”