“Why should we ask for something?” Lukashenko commented maliciously on the report. He lectured anyone who tried to forge a Russian loan of three billion dollars from him, did not understand the true agenda of Russian-Belarusian relations. Lukashenko’s vehement assurances that the visit is not about the money suggest that this is exactly what it is about.
The luck has turned
Since Lukashenko’s election fraud triggered a surprising political crisis in his country last August, he has received increasing support from Russia. Lukashenko took home a $ 1.5 billion loan from his meeting with Putin last September.
At that time, Lukashenko was still acting from a position of weakness: because of the ongoing demonstrations and protests from the West, it was unclear how long he could stay in power.
The regime in Minsk has the situation under control again and is stifling any resistance with brutal violence. That is why the autocrat is now taking a relaxed approach to Moscow. Lukashenko has promised reforms, but does not seem to be in any hurry.
At the “All-Belarus People’s Assembly” ten days ago, a kind of congress of 2,500 officials loyal to the state based on the Chinese model, where Lukashenko was supposed to announce details of the reforms desired by the Kremlin, the autocrat remained vague.
The gathering is more like group therapy for the regime, wrote Artyom Schraibman, Belarus expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank.
The referendum on the constitutional amendment, which optimists in Moscow expected this year, is not due to take place until the beginning of 2022. Lukashenko leaves open when there will be new elections.
Instead, he claims that the current demonstrations in Russia are a continuation of the Belarusian protests. This is a clear signal to Moscow that it is not even considering withdrawing from politics. Lukashenko is currently firmly in the saddle. As long as it stays that way, Putin will support him too.
And what is the European Union doing? Lukashenko apparently expects – similar to the protests in summer 2011 – that there will be a rapprochement in a year or two and that people will quickly return to everyday business.
Lukashenko is currently feeling so strong that he is having Western diplomats harassed in Minsk: For example, representatives of state television regularly film Western diplomats visiting court hearings, asking endless questions and following those affected to the car door. That is a “classic tactic of intimidation”, it is said in Brussels.
The previous punitive measures such as travel restrictions and account freezes – which also affects Lukashenko himself – have so far had no effect.
The re are two variants: either the EU allows Lukashenko to rule for another five years and torment his own people, or there are clever ones , targeted economic sanctions that hit the regime in the heart. ”
Latushka, who was formerly his country’s minister and ambassador in Warsaw and Paris, predicts that “two to three million Belarusians” would leave their country after the corona pandemic if things continued as before. “Germany would also feel that,” said Latushka.
The se were Aliaksei I. Aleksin and Michail S. Guzerijew; Both are close to Lukashenko and are largely responsible for raising money to finance his regime. Guzerijew is said to have connections to an important German company. Latushka did not want to comment on this.
Instead, he said: “I am grateful to Germany for the solidarity and support given to opposition and people in need within the framework of the Belarus Civil Society Action Plan.” He is also happy about the numerous statements made by the EU on the situation in Belarus.
“But many people from my homeland ask me: Where is the EU’s reaction?” It is now important for the government to finally start negotiations with the opposition, said Latushka: “It never does that voluntarily, only under pressure.”