On April 9, 2013, popular Belarusian periodicals carried screaming headlines: “Milinkevich urged the EU to abandon sanctions against Lukashenko”. So what’s going on? What should we think of Milinkevich’s words voiced at a conference, and the joint declaration of three opposition politicians? How should we regard their “tolerance” of violations of human rights and freedoms?
Milinkevich and his colleagues have little choice. Their struggle that’s taking place is not about democracy and political prisoners, or power. They fight for the very existence of the political opposition. After all, if Lukashenko abandonsz the cover of democracy (elections, actions, parties), and tightesn the screws stronger, then the existence of politicians and their political institutions will be not justifiable any more. The oppositionists will not be needed. This, however, will give way to more revolutionary forces. Strictly speaking, these politicians are fighting for own their survival as an endangered species. They are trying to escape as dinosaurs from the advancing glacier.
If there is a democratic warming, the opposition may have a chance for action. If it is closer to a cold totalitarianism – the opposition disappears It is not my idea, it’s the law of the world history. The choice is whether we need the political opposition or not. Or perhaps we need something different, more effective. Europe’s choice is clear, though its flirt with the regime of Lukashenko has a sense – it does not allow him to move away from the EU towards Moscow while, at the same time, the EU keeps this anti-democratic chimera, who casts a shadow on the democratic foundations of Europe, far enough. Therefore, a more decisive Belarusian forces can not rely solely on Europe. Europe is in a situation when keeping the status quo or a minimal easing of repression would be a positive sign.
Therefore, in this situation, all allies of democracy, in order to achieve results in the fight against Lukashenko’s regime, should accept a number of important stances:
1) The progressive political forces cannot be based only on a European rhetoric, a pro-Russian rhetoric should be equally presented.
2) Strengthening of repressions is not always “bad”, but rather it is a transition to a new phase of the fight for non-Lukashenko Belarus – the repressions mean that the fall of Lukashenko’s regime is close.
3) Without an ideological consolidation (as western politicians and institutions claim), the unification for the benefit of Belarus is impossible. And it can only lead to the fall of Lukashenko’s regime, but not to the elimination of oppression of the next government. Such an approach could lead to “chaos” and buying up the economic assets of Belarus by Western or Russian oligarchs and cross-border companies.
There are other, equally important aspects, but these points are enough to form new rules of war for Belarus – and neither Europe, nor Lukashenko, nor Russia are ready to fight for the country on the changed terms.