Belarus: the last dictatorship in Europe seems to open

— In Belarus at the end of the week, thousands of people freely came to the rally against the government. The political changes.

— Belarus, apparently trying to open. Probably because the country before the end of the year wants to enter the WTO.

— Europe wants to use a convenient moment. Sanctions against Belarus were lifted a year ago.

They were full of anger. Someone held a loudspeaker in front of the face of 83-year-old lady Venediktovna. An elderly lady in a woolen headscarf were screaming, “Lukashenko did not meet our expectations. I will always speak out against it.” Fists clenched, raised posters and even bore the EU flag. Belarusian online portal naviny. by wrote later that most of the participants for the first time in his life attended the rally.

About 2,000 people protested last weekend in Gomel, in the capital also held a rally, and even if we had a total of only several thousand participants, it was unusual for Belarus. So many people had not appeared on the streets. In recent times, in the day of the presidential election, the entire world saw footage of the police beating, seven presidential candidates and hundreds of demonstrators were arrested on election day. It is gestco times. But now people were allowed to protest peacefully. While the meetings were not even allowed. In Belarus differently?

The state is acting against idleness and cuts pensions

At least, it seems that there is more tolerance, although criticism in some cases were directed personally against the steering more than 20 years, the country of Alexander Lukashenko. The occasion was a social decree number three, according to which he who during the year was as an employee for less than 183 days must pay the tax in the amount of 225 euros. The government considers this decree as a struggle with laziness and does not consider the amount large. For many Belarusians is a lot of money and an additional burden in times of economic downturn.

The life of Belarusians became heavier. The state must save. The length of seniority to get the pension increased, while receiving social benefits are stringent checks. For 55-year-old Natalia Vladimirovna, like thunder from a clear sky was the news that she doesn’t have enough seniority. According to the journal “Names” for many years I had to care for their child with a disability. She brought it in the work book but to no avail.

The situation is tense. Belarus was in the swamp continued for several years, the Russian economic crisis. In addition, collapsing planned economy, which partly still functioning. So, instead of growth — only negative values. Including why an authoritarian country priorieties.

The leadership in Minsk is looking for alternatives to Russia, carefully beginning to turn to Europe. Belarus needs money, footage of the brutal police operations, arrests in front of the cameras would be on the way to this purpose superfluous. The TV suddenly started to say that every citizen has the right to Express their opinion. It’s blatant advances of the Europeans, which by the way I really appreciate the fact that Minsk sees the annexation of Crimea as they are, and unlike Moscow refuses to recognize the independence of Georgian regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Moscow can no longer contain the Minsk

Minsk does not want to be fully dependent on Moscow. There is no hope that Moscow and continue generously to support the brotherly state, as before, Moscow is in a difficult financial environment. Belarus even went to war over energy prices. Moscow demands from Minsk to pay 550 million euros for gas deliveries after Belarus had previously paid full price. In response, Russia stopped the supply of cheap oil that Belarus refines and then on favorable terms exports to other countries.

When the Belarusian leadership has recently announced the introduction of visa-free regime for all EU countries, and a dozen other countries for up to five days, Russia immediately reacted and introduced border controls. In Belarus are outraged — this mistrust between neighbors, who are linked together more closely than all the other former Soviet republics, it was not long ago. “Belarus is no longer a friend?” — under this title an article was published in the newspaper “Kommersant”, which published the findings of a survey according to which nearly 80 percent of Russians support the introduction of visa regime with Belarus.

The annexation of Crimea and almost unconcealed Moscow’s participation in the war in Eastern Ukraine have raised concerns Lukashenko that Belarusian sovereignty may be threatened. He almost never misses an opportunity to release barbs. A meeting of the Eurasian economic Union in Saint-Petersburg he missed under some pretext. He emphasizes foreign policy diversity and flirts, saying that his office “the Ministers stand in line”. A few days ago Belarus bought oil from Iran.

In the country, Lukashenko is the new generation gets more political influence

Europe is trying to use a favorable moment. In Berlin with relief noted that in Belarusian prisons are no more political prisoners. The EU sanctions are cancelled, the exchange becomes more intimate. Bundestag Deputy from the CDU Karl-Georg Velman (Karl-Georg Wellmann), member of the foreign Committee, in November took part in the forum in Minsk, which was held for the first time after a six year break.

Velman said that the meeting was attended by the opposition, the atmosphere was very open. He knows that the authoritarian Lukashenko suddenly became a Democrat, what tactics determines the course until the end of the year Belarus expects to join the WTO. Then a closer relationship, for example, with the United States, will not hurt. In Berlin believe that Lukashenka is able to ensure stability in the country and to keep a distance in relation to Russia — relations between presidents Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin marked by distrust.

Velman indicates that Belarusian new generation gets more and more influence. Minsk recently sent a very young Ambassador to Berlin. Germany can benefit from this new atmosphere. Head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation has again received a visa, the chances that closed the Minsk office of the Foundation close to the CDU, will resume its work. And the Goethe Institute feels more freedom. Minsk wants the help of German investment, trade benefits, student exchanges, says welman. “We can all help. And have to do it.”