The most important task of the Belarusian regime in the situation created after the hard actions of the security forces on 25 and 26 March, is to preserve at least more or less acceptable relations with the European Union and the United States.
Normalization under attack
The negative reaction of the Western world for the actions of the Belarusian law enforcement agencies (only if the dispersal of the rally on freedom Day in Minsk detained several hundred people) was quite predictable.
Its disappointment of what happened was expressed by the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and Marshal of the Senate Stanislav Karczewski, the head of the Office for democratic institutions and human rights OSCE Hans-Georg link, the leader of the European people’s party, the largest faction in the European Parliament, Joseph Daul.
But, apparently, the most unpleasant for the official Minsk became a statement of Maya Kocijancic, press Secretary of the EU high representative for foreign policy (that “the steps taken by Belarus, when it comes to respect for universal fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and human rights, will remain key to shaping the EU’s relations with this country”), and “deep concern” expressed by the American Embassy.
If something can seriously irritate the Belarusian leadership is not subversive plans of the West (a fictitious local propaganda), and the prospect of the return (after a period of normalization) to the state of relations with the European Union and the United States, which emerged after the 2010 presidential election and the defeat of the Square.
In conditions when Moscow did not render aid, and conflict with her becoming more acute, new the gap with the West may be for the authorities to be extremely dangerous. Although, as shown, this threat is not perceived by Minsk as more serious than mass disaffection of its own citizens.
Rap ordered the Ministry of foreign Affairs
As one would expect, at the forefront of the struggle to prevent undesirable consequences was thrown foreign Ministry.
His staff can only sympathize: they will have to correct the mistakes of others. It is not excluded that all of their truly Titanic efforts in recent years to create at least a little bit acceptable image of the Belarusian regime will be in vain.
Now the Belarusian diplomacy is forced to act as a lawyer to the security forces, to use propaganda horror stories to justify the massive use of force.
Judging by the response of the head of the information Department of the foreign Ministry Dmitry Mironchik to the question of BelTA, the main arguments are the following:
— the rally on March 25 was not for peaceful purposes. The prevention of terrorist attacks is much more effective than “raking their consequences”;
— although the rally in Minsk was unauthorized, the security forces acted gently, gas and other non-lethal weapons, water cannons were not used (despite the fact that they were used during the recent demonstrations in European capitals).
That is quite an obvious attempt to play on especially sensitive now for the Europeans — the threat of terrorism. That’s just the beating of peaceful demonstrators and foreign journalists hardly fit into such a scheme.
At the same time, the picture of repression in Belarus was veiled occurred almost in the same days similar events in Russia.
Finally, the authorities is hoped that the role will play them like foreign lobbyists visited the Minsk of the special Rapporteur on Belarus of the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Andrea Rigoni.
A number of his statements (e.g. “we were told that detentions are purely administrative, and fully comply with current legislation”, “we are confident that… will be free to hold a demonstration in the framework of the rules provided for by national law”), indicates either incompetence, which is unlikely, or certain bias.
Focus on geopolitics
However, it’s rather the tactics of the Belarusian leadership. As for strategy, it appears that the main calculation is the fact that against the background of aggressiveness demonstrated in recent years by Russia, the West will find it possible if not to completely close the eyes to what is happening in our country, the repression, at least not to return to the policy of sanctions.
Moreover, it should be recognized, despite mass arrests and brutality of the current behavior of the security forces, in complete analogy with December 2010, while spend still impossible. A significant portion of the detainees were released without drawing up protocols, others have been prosecuted only on an administrative offence.
Of course, to argue that, ultimately, absolutely everything will be reduced to fines and findings, “on the day”, it would be clearly premature, since the criminal case about preparation of mass riots.
However, the authorities apparently would not want to have political prisoners. It seems that this circumstance they consider (perhaps rightly so) as a kind of red line, a transition which would entail undesirable consequences.
Neither the whip nor the gingerbread from the West?
After the incident, not even the most radical members of the opposition began to prevail a view that only by calls for democratic reforms to achieve the desired result is not obtained. Accordingly, it is concluded that the West needs to use pressure.
It’s hard to say the extent to which Brussels and Washington will listen to such a position. Apparently, we can agree with political analyst Yury Drakokhrust, who admits that before the “big stick” business hardly will reach, but also “carrots” in the form of loans, preference and cooperation will not.
Perhaps this option is really the lesser of two evils. But, as long experience shows, it does not guarantee success.