🇷🇺🇧🇾How Russia-Belarus ties evolved over the years | Al Jazeera English
Independent Belarusian experts discuss a new round of talks between Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko
On December 20, the summit of the heads of the CIS states was held in St. Petersburg. Within its framework, a meeting of the Presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, scheduled two weeks ago, took place..
During the previous talks in Sochi, no tangible progress was made on the adoption of a deep integration program, and therefore an additional meeting was needed. Notable results were not achieved this time either, so the leaders of the countries participating in the “Union State of Russia and Belarus”, following the results of the negotiations, got off with general phrases.
More specific were the words of the Minister of Economic Development of Russia Maxim Oreshkina, who said that deeper integration between the two countries is hampered by three groups of issues related to taxes, oil and gas.
Some of the reasons for the disagreement between Moscow and Minsk were mentioned by Vladimir Putin during the annual big press conference. In particular, he said that Russia is not ready to subsidize the economy of its partner in the Union State in full, and the condition for a preferential gas price should be the creation of supranational bodies in the economic sphere..
“The decision to deepen integration is postponed”
Comment on the results of the talks between Putin and Lukashenko in St. Petersburg The Russian service of the Voice of America asked the Belarusian political analyst Artem Shraibman.
“Over the past few weeks, the sides have clearly and rigidly outlined their positions. Putin said that he does not want to give Belarus any discounts on gas more than what already exists. And the meaning of what has been said is that in order to receive gas at the same prices as the Smolensk region, it is necessary to become like the Smolensk region. That is, to integrate much deeper “, – said Shraibman.
As for oil, from the expert’s point of view, compensation for the so-called “tax maneuver” is possible only if Belarus completely unifies its tax system with the Russian one, which is unlikely to happen..
The Voice of America interlocutor stressed that Putin’s words about the need to create some supranational bodies sounded rather harsh. “In recent months, Minsk has made it clear that it is not ready to create any supranational bodies. Therefore, the side rested in the absence of soil for a compromise. Since there is no progress on taxes, the road map they were going to sign remains unsigned. This means that the decision to deepen integration is also postponed, ”says Artem Shraibman. He considers the current situation a stalemate.
“It is Lukashenka who is responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves today”
A rally of supporters of the integration of Belarus and Russia was scheduled for the first half of Friday in Minsk. However, by the appointed time, only journalists and a few bystanders came to October Square in the Belarusian capital..
The opponents of rapprochement with Moscow managed to gather several thousand people in the evening. By the way, a rally against integration was held in Minsk on the day of the Sochi summit. Then the Belarusian police behaved quite correctly, and contrary to custom, they did not detain anyone. This time, more than 60 oppositionists were previously summoned by summons or by phone to police stations for “preventive conversations.” The leaders of all opposition political organizations were detained in Grodno. The head of the “European Dialogue” center told about this to the correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” Anatoly Lebedko.
According to him, a few days before this action a campaign was launched on Belarusian television to discredit its participants. Nevertheless, the action itself, according to Lyabedzka, went quite calmly..
Anatol Lyabedzka believes that the rally was not an expression of support for President Lukashenka. “The people who came here consider him guilty of an attack on Belarusian sovereignty. Because the author, the architect of this Union Treaty was none other than Alexander Lukashenko. True, then the situation was different, Lukashenko signed an agreement with the aging Yeltsin, and mentally tried on Monomakh’s hat. He had a plan called “All-Slavic President,” and Lukashenka was full of strength and desire to implement it. But today, after twenty years, what used to look like a promising political project has now become a trap both for Lukashenka himself and for almost nine and a half million people who live in Belarus today, ”Lebedko said. And he sums up: “So it is Lukashenka who is responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves today”.
“Over time, the protest may become more radical”
Another participant in a protest rally against “deepened integration with Russia” is the chairman of the “Narodnaya Gromada” party Nikolay Statkevich – in an interview with the Voice of America correspondent, he noted that the Belarusian authorities are trying to use the protest for their own purposes. And at the same time he does everything so that it is not too widespread and does not acquire an avalanche-like character. “At the same time, this protest improves Lukashenka’s negotiating positions during his meetings with Putin. However, over time, the protest may become more radical, ”says Statkevich..
The reason for popular discontent can be a significant deterioration in the economic situation in the country. “In our townships, enterprises are being closed, and all private traders have been crushed. That is, there is no government work or private work. People are forced to go to work in Russia, and now they have already gone to Poland. And the Belarusians are not Western Ukrainians or Moldovans, they are homebodies. For them, such trips are colossal stress. If these people see that Lukashenka has weakened, they will show their negative emotions, ”the chairman of the“ Narodnaya Gromada ”has no doubts..
In this situation, according to Nikolai Statkevich, the President of Belarus has three options for action. The first is to start carrying out political and economic reforms, which he will never do. The second is to bring the country to a riot, and then, according to the interlocutor of the Voice of America, he will face “the fate of Gaddafi, and maybe even worse.”.
The third option seems to the oppositionist the most probable: “Lukashenka, of course, will be a little restrained, but, I think, before the New Year, or after the New Year, he will sign these“ road maps ”of deep integration. And then the most important thing will begin: Putin will declare, they say, we must go further – to create a common parliament, a common government. And then it is not far from the general president – everything, as it is written in the plan of the surrender of the Belarusian state, imposed by Alexander Lukashenko on Moscow in 1999. This plan is called the “Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State”, it is all spelled out there – a common army, currency, border. And Lukashenka has nowhere to go, ”Nikolai Statkevich sums up.