Or, is it possible that someone let Russian president down?
Publications directed against Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in the Russian liberal mass media have recently become more hysterical. They are caused by the manner in which the Belarus president dared to disagree with Vladimir Putin’s suggestion to unite with Russia. Russiab leaders submitted a rather insulting proposition to Belarus, an unacceptable variant for the further development of integration. The publications present Lukashenko as a person who cares for his own egoistic interests only.
What has been done by the Belarussian opposition in this situation has come in really very handy for Russia. Russian national TV channels showed protests organized by opponents to the unification with Russia: Belarussian youth burnt portraits of Russia President Putin right before the cameras. The situation in Belarus was commented upon with the following words: “Lukashenko and his opposition managed to reach a consensus as never before and said NO to Putin.” These were attempts to represent Lukashenko and his opposition as a single whole, as if they stood together against unification with Russia.
Belarussian news agency BELTA published a press-release from the Belarussian president’s press-service regarding a meeting of Alexander Lukashenko with chairman of Dagestan State Council Magomedali Magomedov, where the problem of Russian-Belarussian union was commented upon. The press-release reads, “Alexander Lukashenko mentioned that Russia’s leadership submitted a rather insulting proposition to Belarus, an unacceptable variant for further integration. This proposition means that Belarus will be deprived of sovereignty and become equal to other subjects of the Russian Federation. In Lukashenko’s words, the proposition is designed to bar the creation of a union state between Russia and Belarus.
Another variant of Russian-Belarussian integration is to follow the European Union model. However, as Lukashenko says, this model would disagree with a treaty currently in force on the creation of a union state, a treaty concluded with much effort. At the same time, the Belarussian president said that the country would never be guided by emotions only to severe relations with Russia. Alexander Lukashenko said that Belarus would do its best to keep the Russia-Belarus union and make it attractive for other republics of former Soviet Union. Belarus has always been an honest and reliable partner for Russia, which is why the country demands an adequate attitude, Lukashenko said.
The Belarussian president touched upon privatization problem and said that Russian capital would be given priority. “However, Belarus shouldn’t be pressed to follow Russia’s scenario.” Alexander Lukashenko stressed that Belarus would never be a hanger-on for Russia, because the country’s potential is great to successfully support itself. At the same time, being a so-called window to the West, Belarus is also very important for the Russian Federation. Lukashenko says that the country should be evaluated not by its size but by its potential.”
Therefore, the bewilderment of Belarussian president is quite clear. At the same time, it is obvious that criticism from Alexander Lukashenko, who used to always be friendly towards Russia, is caused by previous censure from his Russian colleague.
From very beginning, both countries, Russia and Belarus, intended to create a union where equality of rights of both members would be preserved. Champions of unification hoped that this union would be a legal successor to the Soviet Union, where the positive experience accumulated during the Soviet era would be used (unfortunately, Russia failed to cope with this role alone).
If the initiatives submitted by Moscow are accepted, no adequate union of Russia and Belarus can be created. “Even Lenin and Stalin never attempted to parcel Belarus out and include it into the Russian Federation structure,” Alexander Lukashenko says. This would certainly mean regress, a setback even to a pre-revolution period, when tsars considered Belarus as a part of the Russian Empire. At that time, Belarus suffered from Poland’s pressure, which is why such structural composition was quite normal. Currently, Belarus is a self-sufficient sovereign state (it was also a separate republic during the Soviet period). The country has steady foreign economic relations, with Russia first of all. It is clear that character of commercial and economic relations between Belarus and Moscow will be different if Belarus becomes a RF subject. In other words, relations established long ago will change. Besides, Lukashenko says that Belarus won't go through Russia’s experience when the state property was plundered during privatization. Moreover, Alexander Lukashenko thinks that the inclusion of Belarus into the RF structure will set an unfavorable example for other former republics of the Soviet Union: for Armenia, Moldavia, and Ukraine.
It seems that the suggestions submitted by Moscow aim to break the treaty on creation of a Russia-Belarus union. It is not ruled out that they were also designed to provoke Alexander Lukashenko to make harsh emotional statements, which could be further used in Russia’s own interests.
Alexander Lukashenko says that suggestions concerning future of the union state were never completely discussed during negotiations with Vladimir Putin. The Belarussian President said at a press-conference on Thursday: “Vladimir Putin saw documents with the suggestions right before the press-conference and glanced over the papers in my presence. It was an improvisation right at the press-conference.” Among other suggestions, it was mentioned that BelaRussia should hold a referendum; no referendum was mentioned during the negotiations. Alexander Lukashenko said after the press-conference that he had been offered to organize a referendum to answer three questions: whether Belarus wanted to be an equal member of the union with Russia, wants to become a RF subject and form seven regions in the Russian Federation, or whether Belarus agreed to form authorities of the union based on the Russian Constitution. The last suggestion means that functions of the current authorities of the Russian-Belarussian union should be handed over to Russia. What is more, it is nonsense to suggest that Belarus should become a RF subject and form seven regions. Lukashenko thinks that someone just wants to let Vladimir Putin down.
If we take into consideration what kind of people surround President Putin, it is perfectly clear that Russian-Belarussian integration will be prevented. It would be interesting to know whether Vladimir Putin knew himself that he would be given documents with contradictory suggestions. Did he authorize this farce himself or not? Were the suggestions voiced at the press-conference an improvisation or a thoroughly weighed performance?
Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/23/46133.html
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