Minsk confronts domestic issues


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is confronting the most severe challenge in his 26 years in power. The opposition forces, which accused him of winning the presidential election through fraud, have won the support of at least part of the public in Belarus’ capital Minsk. The anti-government demonstrations have reached a scale that could impact the country’s stability.
Lukashenko flew over the demonstrators and arrived at his Minsk residence in a helicopter on Sunday, wearing body armor while holding a rifle. Such images reinforced the people’s impression of tensions in Belarus.
Lukashenko was elected to his sixth term as president two weeks ago with 80.23 percent of the vote. The result was immediately questioned and boycotted by the opposition, and Belarus soon fell into turbulence that has never been seen since he came to power.
The similar incident, the opposition refusing to accept its defeat after election, was once staged in Ukraine, a country next to Belarus, which evolved into a “color revolution.” Where is the situation in Belarus headed? This has attracted the attention of neighboring countries, as well as major powers.
Western countries hope that the Belarusian opposition could overthrow Lukashenko this time. The US has been imposing sanctions on Belarus, because apart from their ideological antagonism, Minsk and Moscow are allies. For Western forces, including the US, pulling Lukashenko down would deal a blow to Russia. Belarus is Russia’s last shield. Eighty percent of the Belarus’ population is Russian Orthodox. Unlike Ukraine, where most are Catholics, Russia’s influence can be better maintained in Belarus to resist Western subversion.
The chaos in Belarus was caused by complicated internal and external factors. In the end, it seems to be marked by major power games, which have almost become a template for sensitive affairs in Central and Eastern Europe.
European history shows that once a small country becomes the focus of major power wrestling, if its opinions at home are severely divided, the country would usually turn into a tragedy. Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina are typical examples.
Belarus and Russia have long historical ties with close connections in their language and culture. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the two formed the Union State in 1997.
– Global Times