Belarus will not repeat the fate of Yugoslavia or Georgia
The referendum and the elections to the parliament, which took place last Sunday in Belarus, had a predictable ending: Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarus President, won. To all appearance, no one either in Belarus or abroad had any doubts about the outcome of the voting. Therefore, the reaction to the results of the referendum and the elections was quite predictable too.
Alexander Lukashenko, however, decided to set out his surprise about such a unanimous support that the nation has expressed towards his persona. The Belarussian president stated at a recent press conference in Minsk that the results of the voting had stunned him. Almost 80 percent of voters approved the idea for Lukashenko's running at the next presidential election in Belarus. Almost 90 percent of Belarus nationals came to the polls to vote. Furthermore, the president's proponents won the parliamentary elections in the country too: no opposition candidate has managed to be elected.
Lukashenko's joy is quite logic, no matter if it is feigned or sincere. The president of Belarus may stay calm to the critics from abroad. “There was no need to falsify or draw trouble and additional criticism upon ourselves after such results. We have enough of that,” stated the president.
Being inspired with the results of the referendum, the president of Belarus thought that there would be no harsh criticism at all: “I do not think that the West will criticize Belarus after the results of the voting. OSCE has taken a time out to think it through and prepare a report. The West is keeping silence,” Lukashenko said.
However, Lukashenko is not too naive to think that he will avoid criticism, especially against the background of the act of democracy in Belarus, which has been recently approved by US congressmen.
The USA and the European Union are not satisfied with the voting results in Belarus. It is noteworthy, though, that their comments on the matter differed. It seems that both Washington and Brussels were rather surprised with the referendum. American and European officials did not have any doubts about Lukashenko's victory, although they did not expect such a firm victory.
Western officials' comments were rather monotonous. They stated that the elections did not comply with the standards, that numerous violations were registered during the voting process, etc. Western officials release similar statements about elections in almost all countries of the former Soviet Union. One shall assume that they will say the same about the forthcoming presidential election in Ukraine. However, the West is not likely to exert influence on Alexander Lukashenko.
Needless to say that the Belarussian opposition has not accepted the results of the voting either. Yet, opposition leaders have failed to do anything against it. The Belarussian authorities were very well prepared for possible actions of protest. About a thousand people gathered in the center of Minsk on Monday night to express their protest against President Lukashenko. The police put an end to the meeting very quickly, as opposition members tried to make their way to the head of state's residence.
The director of the Belarussian KGB, Leonid Erin, shocked the protesters. When hundreds of demonstrators approached the building of the KGB, Erin personally invited several people from the crowd to his office. Erin talked to them quietly and promised them that he would never let anyone infringe upon their freedom and independence. After that the astounded protesters decided that there was no need to continue the meeting and so they left.
There are a lot of reasons to affirm that Belarus will not repeat the crisis in Yugoslavia or Georgia. Lukashenko has been holding the power in the country for quite a long time. It is not ruled out that the majority of Belarus nationals are tired of him. However, it does not mean anything. Lukashenko has established his own scheme of power, which ends on the unique persona of his own. He is aware of everything that is happening in the country. In addition, the president effects and governs all events too.
In addition, it is very hard to find a person in the opposition of Belarus, who would manage to lead the whole nation. Georgians are lucky at this point: Mikhail Saakashvili, the newly elected President of Georgia, is definitely an outstanding person, no matter what criticism and attitude he might receive. Lukashenko does not have a rival, who would be capable of uniting the opposition, to make it a real powerful force. As long as Belarus does not have such a leader, its opposition will be left to playing the extra role: they can express their discontent and concerns as much as they want, but it will not have any impact on public life.
Finally, and most importantly, the majority of Belarus nationals are happy with their current lives. It does not mean that the living standard in Belarus is high. The explanation is rather simple and universal for nearly all members of the Commonwealth of Independent States: people are sure that the new leader will not change their lives for the better. If it is really so, what is the point of changing anything? This is the explanation of Lukashenko's success – it does not mean that the Belarussian president is an outstanding political figure.