April the 3rd marked the tenth anniversary of the union between Russia and Belarus. Back in April 1996, quite a few experts reckoned that Boris Yeltsin – who looked set to run for his second term in office later that summer, and Alexander Lukashenko – who took command of Belarus two year before – signed the Agreement on the Union just for show. The union purported to be a harmless project. It would have been great if the union had taken shape. Had it ended in failure – well, too bad. Now, 10 years later, the only toast that is asking to be proposed goes like this: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
It is the tenth anniversary of wasted dreams, empty talk, and millions of dollars pumped into the neighboring dictatorship. Those millions helped keep the Belarussian economy afloat and feign success of the Lukashenko regime. Russia has been supplying Belarus with cheap natural gas, which was resold at the world price. The profits were pocketed by the Lukashenko family. Russia did not get any concessions in return. No single currency, no single constitution, no single gas pipeline system. Meanwhile, Lukashenko can do in Belarus whatever he feels like doing. Those who openly protest his dictatorial rule are either imprisoned or brutally intimidated. The ideologists of the “Slavic brotherhood” should now be ashamed of footing the bill for turning Belarus into the breeding ground for yet another bashi while killing the faith of Belarussians – Russia’s only friends – in Russia as their just ally.
That is why the anniversary will not become a commemoration. It will be yet another function held for effect. According to official statements, the festivities will take place in Minsk and Moscow. However, “the culprits” of the festivities are not going to attend them. Boris Yeltsin is on vacation. After celebrating his “landslide victory” in last month’s election, Lukashenko seems to have vanished without a trace. His whereabouts are unknown for two weeks in a row. First, an inauguration ceremony was postponed (until April 8, the date subject to confirmation), then the presidential press service issued a statement to deny previous reports regarding Lukashenko’s arrival in Moscow on April 3. Some people say the only TV news item featuring Lukashenko at some meeting was in fact an old story dated January 15. Given Lukashenko’s propensity for addressing the nation on TV day and night, it is really strange that he is not on the air screaming about the “corrupt opposition leaders” who had themselves thrown into jail, or the glorious warrior Luka, the defender of the “blue-eyed girl Belarus.” But the boss keeps silent. His prosecutors, aids, and secretaries speak on his behalf. Lukashenko did not even react to the news about an upcoming fivefold increase in the gas price. He used to be quick to fire back shouting: “You will not choke us with your economic pressure!” etc.
Members of Lukashenko’s team speak out while the boss is out to movies. Some of them have become the real newsmakers lately. For example, the top ideologist of the presidential administration Proleskovsky went on the air and said that “the administration already drew up a plan of building a corporate state in Belarus.” Lukashenko and members of his administration have botched up a thousand times before simply by choosing wrong analogies. The latest bungle has to do with a corporate state, something resembling very much Italy under Benito Mussolini. Il Duce called parliamentarian democracy a thing of the past. Instead, he proposed a system of corporate institutions i.e. class formations. In accordance with an official doctrine, a number of corporations are bound together in a single fascine like a bundle of twigs united in fascio, a fascine in Italian, hence fascism as an ideology of a corporate state. So what about the union with a fascist state?
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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