Lukashenko: “the Russian government must stop lobbying for the interests of oligarchs”

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MINSK – In Russia, big business has grown together with the government and lobbies its interests, and this practice paralyzes the development of relations between Moscow and Minsk, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko believes.

At a meeting with journalists and representatives of the public, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko demanded that the Russian authorities stop protecting the interests of the “oligarchic business”.

It is necessary to stop the government of Russia to lobby these clans, these groups, as they are called – oligarchic. Big business has grown together with the authorities, pushing their questions, blocking our relations in the Union.

The Belarusian president cited several examples of lobbying Russian business at the government level.

“One of the issues on the agenda is permission for shipping. We transport, say, from third countries, from Poland or Germany, to Russia. We are allowed to make such trips . And we have no restrictions [for Russians]. We, a small country, are not afraid that your imports will crush us” Lukashenko said, expressing that there should be greater reciprocity.  

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In recent weeks, Putin and Lukashenko have floated the idea of bringing Belarus and Russia closer together. They have already done so twice, in the 90’s – first establishing a commonwealth on April 2nd 1996, and then exactly a year later on April 2nd 2007, the ‘Union State’ was established. What is on the table now is a single currency – a ‘ruble’ that is neither Russian nor Belarusian in name.

In more recent years, Russia has tried to promote Belarus as an entirely neutral arbiter, to be something like the ‘Switzerland’ of the Eurasian Union. This is what led to Belarus hosting the Normandy Four agreement meetings at Minsk – also referred to as the Minsk Agreement.

Lukashenko is facing an upcoming election, and realizes two things – the first is that he must placate some element of Belarusian nationalism by attacking the obvious corruption among Russian oligarchs, whom Belarusians – like most Russians – greatly despise and hold partly responsible for the significant deterioration of living conditions and political transparency that came with the collapse of the USSR at the start of the 1990’s. The second is that Belarus in reality is very close to Russia across all vectors, and will require an even closer relationship to Russia if it is to avoid experiencing a western backed ‘Color Revolution’ or ‘Maidan’, which the west plans for Belarus precisely by mobilizing a coalition of liberals and nationalists.

Fortunately, there is a strongly foreign flavor to hard-line Belarusian nationalism, looking fondly upon the years that Belarus was under the rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This is a serious weakness within Belarusian ‘nationalism’ – a nationalism that isn’t, and provides ample footing for Lukashenko to promote the actual Russianess of the Belarusian people. The primary aim is to avoid a ‘Maidan’ scenario in Minsk – both in the immediate political sense, and in the long-term culture-building sense.

The U.S state department, National Endowment for Democracy, in their work with Nazi groups in Ukraine, have had a difficult time uniting the Ukrainian nazi and Belarusian nazi movements, beyond superficial aesthetics and vague historical gestures. Ukrainian nazism opposes Polish rule, and glorifies the pogroms against ethnic Poles in what is today Ukraine. Belarusian nazism, however, more clearly and distinctly promotes an Intermarium project or an expanded Visegrád Group, and venerates the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

 

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