CIVILIZATIONAL CHOICE

As perceptive readers will have realised, I’m hedging my bets about the outcome of the crisis in Belarus. A few days ago, I mentioned that if one must make predictions they should be probabilities not absolutes. Back then, if I’d been forced to make a judgement I’d probably have said that there was around an 80% chance of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko staying in power. Now, as a general strike movement gathers pace, I reckon the odds rather worse for him – 50-60%. In other words, I have no idea how this will end up, and I’m back in my favourite position – sitting on the fence.  

Given this, I’m not a huge fan of the idea of imposing sweeping new sanctions on Belarus. They are unlikely to have any impact on the final result. Arguments that sanctions will give moral encouragement to the opposition, whereas a failure to do so will demoralize them, and in this way affect the outcome of the current crisis, seem to me to exaggerate their influence on ordinary people. And since there is a good chance that Lukashenko will survive, we run a risk of ending up in a position in which the sanctions remain for a long time, harming not Lukashenko but the Belarusian population. The only point of sanctions appears to be virtue signalling, and as such they’re not good policy. 

On the other hand, we also need to consider the possibility that Lukashenko will fall from power. This forces us to think about what should be done at that point. In this regard, a comment on Facebook by conservative Russian philosopher Boris Mezhuev got me thinking. Noting that the current government of Belarus had tried hard to avoid taking sides between Russia and the West, Mezhuev continued: 

The question is actually only one question, whether the overthrow of the dictatorship will lead to a civilizational collision similar to [the] Ukrainian [one] or even more large-scale. The question of civilizational self-determination of the country will arise immediately after Lukashenko’s departure. If it is unambiguously pro-European, Russia will hardly feel indifferent to it and it is unlikely to look [positively] at the drift of Minsk towards NATO and the EU. If it is unambiguously pro-Russia, most likely, the excitement will continue in Minsk and Western regions of the country. To be honest, I don’t even logically see an option that could save us from the new civil war. 

This strikes me as rather pessimistic, but it does raise an important point, of considerable relevance to the issue of what to do if Lukashenko is toppled. The civil war in Ukraine resulted in large part because a section of the Ukrainian elite (most of its intellectual class) chose to present its internal political disagreements with the ruling party in terms of a civilizational choice between Russia and the West, and because the European Union encouraged this framing of the problem.  

Personally, I doubt that a similar framing will have the same traction in Belarus as in Ukraine, for a variety of reasons – historical, linguistic, and economic. An article on the Meduza website today noted the sudden prevalence among protestors of the initial post-Soviet white and red Belarusian flag (instead of the current (and previously Soviet) red and green version). De-Sovietization tends to go along with de-Russianization, and the use of this symbol makes one wonder if the anti-Lukashenko protests could at some point get an anti-Russian texture. But there’s not any clear indication of it at present. The same Meduza article notes that EU flags are noticeable by their absence in the Belarusian protests. It doesn’t seem that the protestors are demanding a civilizational choice. 

That’s good news. What matters now is whether outsiders force such a choice on them. In Ukraine’s case, once the EU had offered a partnership agreement (and NATO had promised eventual membership), Ukraine was left with little option but to choose its vector – Europe or Russia. The EU and NATO need to avoid putting Belarus in the same position, as too must Russia.  

Unlike Mezhuev, I don’t hold to the view that civilizational choices are inevitable, in part because I’m not a fan of the whole civilizational discourse. The idea that there is a single monolithic bloc, which is Europe, and then there is something completely distinct, which is Russia, doesn’t, in my view, correspond to reality. Try to make reality fit that model is what causes problems. One thing Lukashenko probably got right was trying to avoid commitment to one side or another. We should allow any future leader of Belarus to do the same. 

44 thoughts on “CIVILIZATIONAL CHOICE”

  1. Polls suggest that what might term the “Russophilia Quotient” in Belarus is comparable to that in the Donbass c.2014: https://www.unz.com/akarlin/why-belarus-isnt-ukraine/

    So the prospect of a civil war in Belarus – which is much more ideologically homogeneous than the Ukraine – is a far fetched prospect. The chances that it will go hardcore zmagarist are slightly higher, but still very improbable. Most likely, it will only be possible through another dictatorship.

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    1. If it looks like Batka is doomed, his allies might decide that the best way to save their own bacon is a coup, installing an interim president, who can use his/her position to prepare for ‘election’ in due course on a more permanent basis, keeping the basic system more or less as is. Unlikely, but there are many possibilities here.

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    2. Haven’t seen you here for a long time, although once in a while check your contributions on unz.

      Would you please forgive this nitwit? Zmagarist vs hardcore zmagarist? Whatzit?

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      1. Commies, like Zyuganov, support Lukashenko’s relict BSSR – hence, pro-Lukashenko and anti-zmagarist (zmagarism being Belarusian nationalism, which is implicitly anti-Russian).

        Ok, ok. Found it.

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  2. Back then, if I’d been forced to make a judgement I’d probably have said that there was around an 80% chance of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko staying in power. Now, as a general strike movement gathers pace, I reckon the odds rather worse for him – 50-60%.

    You might be interested to know that your estimates exactly match what’s been happening on the world’s only (so far as I know) predictions market on Luka’s prospects. https://www.metaculus.com/questions/4918/alexander-lukashenko-to-remain-president-of-belarus-on-january-31st-2021/

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  3. I always enjoy your posts and wonder what your thoughts are on the flight of Lukashenko’s opponent to Lithuana. You might want to take a look at my ‘Russia’s Americans’ published in 2018, which includes history and interviews with Americans who have chosen to live and work in Russia. Also, what do you think of the role of the Wolfowitz doctrine?

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation. Wolfowitz doctrine is a bit dated now, but the underlying mentality is still fairly widespread in US foreign policy circles.

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  4. Professor, where do you see about a planned general strike in Belorussia? From what I see in the press, Tikhanovskaya has made some vague calls for a general “coming-together” of various types of groups, including “trade unions”, “civil society”, and the usual suspects.

    If this Western tool could actually pull off a general strike, on the Polish model, then t’would indeed be a game changer. I’m just not seeing that in the stuff that I am reading… (?)

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    1. “…pull off a general strike, on the Polish model,”

      As far as I remember there had been no general strike in Poland pre-martial law time. It seems to me that the threat of one on a couple of ocassions galvanised the then government to take harsh action and consequently suspension of the constitution. Post-martial law any chances of such did not exist. I don’t think it is that easy.

      Regards,

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    2. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly where I saw reference to a ‘general’ strike, though it was surely in reference to the walkout of the tractor factory workers and various others.

      We’ll see on Monday how many stop work. That will give us a clue as to Lukashenko’s prospects. So far the numbers of protestors haven’t been regime threatening, in my opinion. If there is a massive walkout of workers next week, then the dynamic changes somewhat. If not, I’ll revise my probabilities back in Luka’s favour. We shall see.

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      1. I’m no Nostradamus either, but I somehow just can’t see the Opps pulling off a major work action. Why would any industrial workers (aside from random individuals) possibly support those bourgeois hirelings?

        In response to vandermerwe: I was alluding to the Polish strikes which led to the fall of the Communist government, is that what you were thinking of too? Those were genuine industrial worker strikes, and even more proof (in case any is needed) that the proletariat have massive power to bring down governments albeit (as in this case) not always understanding their own best class interests.

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  5. “The civil war in Ukraine resulted in large part because a section of the Ukrainian elite (most of its intellectual class) chose to present its internal political disagreements with the ruling party in terms of a civilizational choice between Russia and the West, and because the European Union encouraged this framing of the problem.”

    You understanding is wrong, Professor, and, clearly, dictated by your very own personal and strata derived biases. “Intellectual class” is an oxymoron – intelligentsia is not a “class” in itself, just a strata, subservient to the ruling class. The mere thought about this be undoubtedly true, of course, makes you (and others sharing your socio-political views and current “predicament” in the West) both uncomfortable and, lets call it, “trigger happy”. But it is true.

    A significant portion of the Ukrainian “intellectuals” (one can’t write this down without laughing!) were mouthpieces of the local oligarchs and also (there were not 100% correlation) of the international capital, exemplified by the West. They were awash with funds to propagate all the usual myths, like that “Association treaty” would result in the EU level of prosperity (newsflash – no, it didn’t), that LARPing the Western practices, be they gay parades or the NATO nomenclature, would make the Ukraine stronK (another newsflash – no, it’s just cargo cultism), or that “holy tomos” would make them “spiritually independent” (no comments).

    They did it (still do) due to purely mercenary reasons. Civil war in the Ukraine proved to be enormously profitable, while not challenging the livelihood of the key oligarchs and their powerbase. The same is true for the Russophobic lobby in the West – hyping “Russian aggression” naturally results in funds delivered into various bottomless abyssal pits, aka “foundations to counter disinformation” or “think tank’s initiative to contain hybrid threat”. So-called “intellectual” so-called “class” that you mention lives off these sinecures, safe in conviction that no one will call out their bullshit for years to come. All talks about “civilization” are just demagoguery, that might inspire feeble minded opinionated victims of the “universal education”, sadly, now abound in the world and the Net. Meanwhile such talks lack any substance.

    “But there’s not any clear indication of it at present. The same Meduza article notes that EU flags are noticeable by their absence in the Belarusian protests. It doesn’t seem that the protestors are demanding a civilizational choice.”

    🙂

    Of course, a consistent and intellectual honest way of quoting anything by Meduza would require anyone to check if this (or any) claim of there is true, and – lo and behold!


    ^Radio Liberty (funded by the US government)

    Elsewhere:

    As they say in the (post civilizational choice) Ukraine – “отакої

    So, when Meduza write about “the sudden prevalence among protestors of the initial post-Soviet white and red Belarusian flag” – they are full of shit. That “slab of salo” banner is very old traditional flag used by the Belorussian nationalists (“zmagars”) and anti-Lukashenko protestors, who are often the same people.

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    1. “De-Sovietization tends to go along with de-Russianization, and the use of this symbol makes one wonder if the anti-Lukashenko protests could at some point get an anti-Russian texture. But there’s not any clear indication of it at present. “

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EfiGdtMWsAcLWv4?format=jpg

      Really, Professor, your giddiness at the prospect at the coup attempt and consant attempts to whitewash by making it look more “presentable” of the Byelorussian opposition, makes me wonder – what’s in it for you?

      De-Sovietization not just “tends to go” – it GOES. It goes along with rabid nationalism. In this region of Europe it means Nazification. Just like that. But. I guess, Nazis are more acceptable for the Anglo-Saxon world, – after all, they were fellow capitalists and people of the same civilization, totally unlike beastlike brutal Asiatic hordes of the Soviets, (whom you made no secret to despise more than the former).

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      1. “In this region of Europe it means Nazification. Just like that.”

        That’s the thing, though: nazification of Belarus (that is, glorification of anti-Soviet resistance, allied with Nazi Germany) seems unlikely (as opposed to Western Ukraine and the Baltics). Belarus lost a quarter of the population in that war, and I believe it’s still remembered. Soviet liberation is still liberation.

        Not nearly enough sympathizers. Or so it seems to me.

        I’m curious what the archetype of a Belarusian nationalist is: urban/rural, educated/uneducated? Iow, is it just an expedient role assumed by pro-western liberals, or is there a genuine (if small) popular movement?

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      2. Belorussia had its share of Nazi collaborationists during the war. I reckon they are the ones who are being honored by these red-white flag people. But it’s a fair question just how Nazi these color revolutionaries are, or just opportunistically dancing to the NATO tune. Also a fair question what kind of demographics, urban? white-collar? pro-Ukrainian, etc.

        On that note, I saw this surprisingly good op-ed from RT America. Author points out how a pro-Ukraine stance is an ideological MUST for these types. Which is also sort of the ideological litmus test for Russian liberals as well. In fact, with any of these “activists”, the whole matter of pigeon-holing them can be decided in 2 seconds by asking them the simple question: Чей Крым? (Who does Crimea belong to?)

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      3. “That’s the thing, though: nazification of Belarus (that is, glorification of anti-Soviet resistance, allied with Nazi Germany) seems unlikely (as opposed to Western Ukraine and the Baltics). Belarus lost a quarter of the population in that war, and I believe it’s still remembered. Soviet liberation is still liberation. “

        Q: “How do you eat an elephant?”
        A: “One bit of a time”

        They (anti-Russian pro-Western natsionalists) already have Alexeyevich – a Noble Prize Winner! – that contributing to reframing the view on the War. They will begin with masochistic glorification of victimhood and suppression of everything Victory related (just like in the Ukraine). Then, they will pronounce Belarus (not Byelorussian SSR) “another victim of the double totalitarian repression”. Then, they will ban everything communist related. Then, they will pronounce the communism to be a “imperial Russian project”, and, therefore, all communists to be either ethnic Russians or local quislings.

        C’mon, Mao – we already seen it done (done to deat – literally) elsewhere. Bit by bit, by they will try to move Overton Window in that direction.

        Belarus has its own version of Western Ukraine – borderland with Poland and Lithuania. Plus this:

        “I’m curious what the archetype of a Belarusian nationalist is: urban/rural, educated/uneducated?”

        Makes the picture of the typical “zmagar”. Yes, they are Nazi apologetic. No, no dissonance whatsoever. Quite a lot of them are living off trans-border commerce (either legal or not) with the EU countries – here you have the local capitalist element, that, naturally, resorts to the nationalism as an ideological justification for its narrowminded demands. Add to that grant-suckers that have been relying on the EU for decades, and you will have a swathe of intelligentsia willing to propagate “right” ideas.

        I also urge everyone to read the political program of Tykhanovskaya. Actually – that’s not her own program, but of the people who chose her as a sock-puppet. To absolutely no one’s surprise, they plan sweepint neo-liberal “reforms” in the vien of the Holy 90s ™, while proclaiming “neutrality”, by leaving Customs and Eurasian Union (let alone – the Union State) with Russia.

        In short – I understand why Westies in general and our gracious host here are joyous at the prospect of new bout of plunder and snubbing “dem Russkis”. What I don’t understand is why they had to mask unbridled imperialism at this stage – they are fooling literally nobody.

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      4. “Quite a lot of them are living off trans-border commerce”

        Actually, I thought (could be wrong) that smugglers don’t tend to be nationalistic, and aren’t particularly interested in integrating with the EU. Bad for business. That’s based on my (very limited) knowledge of Ukraine.

        So, the usual suspects would be young professionals and students (future young professionals). Plus some assorted losers, a-la “Moskali ate our salo”. But I don’t think that’s enough.

        Ukraine has the Western, former Austrian side, where the anti-Russian sentiment was being forcefully planted and developed for a long time. That was this incremental ‘social engineering’ you’re talking about. And this region is still the ideological base, the main resource for the post-maidan entity.

        Does Belarus have a similar eh… what’s the word? …community? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. And if it’s just the yuppies, it shouldn’t be too bad.

        …or, I guess another way to ask this question is this: do these protests only happen in Minsk?

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      5. To answer Mao’s question, did the protests just happen in Minsk? No, they happened everywhere, most especially in Minsk and also the Western cities of Brest and Grodno, which used to be part of Poland, if I am not mistaken.
        No, I think we have to look this thing in the eye and admit that it is a successful, well-organized, and mass-based color revolution. Whose purpose, as even an infant can see, is to bring Belorussia into NATO and finish that last piece of the Iron Curtain which gives NATO control of the whole line from Black to Baltic Seas.

        The real question is: How should Russia respond to this? I’m glad I’m not Putin, this is a real tricky one.

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      6. “Actually, I thought (could be wrong) that smugglers don’t tend to be nationalistic, and aren’t particularly interested in integrating with the EU. Bad for business. That’s based on my (very limited) knowledge of Ukraine.”

        The “joy” of the organized crime, is that it infects the whole (sometimes – not just) local vertical of power. No one is engaging in 100% illegal activity among them. There are a lot of very legal activities, which serve to launder money for the rest of the “outfit”. One might even call this sort of arrangement “hybrid”, but, I guess, the term is a Western think-tanks IP by now, used to described only bad activities by the “adversaries”.

        Western Ukraine is a cesspool of the smuggling – everything goes, with the reports of cigarette smugglers getting inventive and even high-tech (drones, catapults, tunnels, etc.), while official Kiev by now basically surrendered to amber “miner” mafia. This is not even touching upon the ages old scheme, when alcohol grade spirit producing factories regularly receive hefty state subsidies, then report (year after year) decline in productivity and ask for even more money “for modernization of the hardware”. Meanwhile illegal “distilleries” are mushrooming all across the Best Ukrajina, doing not as much of stillin’, as of stealing state produced alcohol (sometimes – even bottles) and slapping their own labels on it, and then smuggling it to the neighbouring EU countries.

        Rhetorical question time – what are the electoral preferences in the Western Ukraine? Hint – look at the % of Zelensky voters there last year.

        [Leaving aside the question of the feudal-like loyalty networks this arrangement produces, and how local barons could easily mobilize their clients to do… basically anything]

        Another time-honoured transborder activity, this time – analogous both in the Ukraine and Byelorussia – “car wrangling”, i.e. personal transportation of the Western Europe made car across several borders from the place of purchase (e.g. – Poland) to where your prospective buyer lives (e.g. – Russia, but could be the Ukraine or Byelorussia themselves), who, by some reasons, can’t make a purchase in person. In the Ukraine these people were known as “Euroblyakhery”, from the words “Euro” and “blyakha”, denoting that these cars arrived proudly displaying EU compliant vehicle registration plate.

        “Euroblyakhers” could be called “individual entrepreneurs” (aka the petite bourgeoisie) who were raking a killing for decades. Why?

        – On the part of Europe – high environmental taxes in Germany, which is why old cars are sold cheaply, for example, to Poland, where the taxes are lower;
        – On the part of the Ukraine and Byelorussia – low incomes of the population, poor compliance with customs regulations, high (in Ukraine – till 2018) duty on cars and inept stimulation of local automobile production .

        Of course, this whole activity is murky as Hell, regularly wading into a gray-zone commerce. A used car with a European number plate according to documents, is just “temporarily imported” to Ukraine or Byelorussia by a foreigner, but in fact, is driven into by a local as the unregistered property of that citizen imported without paying customs duties for personal use, resale or dismantling for parts. The practice of maintaining foreign registration has become widespread in the Ukraine since 2014 (gee, I wonder – why?!); as of July 2018, about 2 million vehicles were imported under this scheme.

        Another rhetorical question time – who contributed an inordinary amount of “horsepowers” to the pillar of the so-called Revolution of Dignity, the oft forgotten “Auto-Maidan”?

        I’m not going to engage in citing personal experience and anecdotes of my contacts, friends, acquaintances, relatives etc. in Belorussia, for they are unverifiable and could/should be dismissed out of hand. I mean, finding a correlation between a 20 something zmagar insisting, that Hitler and Himmler were not actually against Slavs, because they loved to listen to Chaykovsky, and Gomel’s entire “cottage” (literally this time) industry in of hentai smuggling and consequent dubbing from Poland to Belorussia and then across the Soviet Union – I’m simply not equipped to do that 😉

        A lot of commenters like to call Belorussia under Lukashenko to be “Soviet like/lite” – they are ignorant idiots. Belorussia is a capitalist country. Yes, it lacks oligarchs and has big state sector of the economy. But as you can’t be “just a little bit pregnant” (c), so you can’t deny the inner logic of the capitalism as the basis of the economy for too long – just ask Libya. That young professionals you mention, Mao, a lot of them will find employment outside of the state sector, often, in the companies exemplifying international financial capital, or other countries national capital. No wonder they are not loyal to Lukashenko.

        As for “integrating with the EU [is] [b]ad for [smugglers] business” – only in the long run. The Ukraine’s example have shown the entire wide world that, no, “integration” is more hot air than a reality. The prospects of it actually happening makes everyone recall the punchline of old Hojja Nasreddin’s fable: “In 10 years either me, or emir or this donkey will be dead”. The immediate chaos after the “Revolution” – now, that’s a given golden opportunity to strike while its still hot.

        “National interests”? Nope, these people don’t have any.

        “Does Belarus have a similar eh… what’s the word? …community? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. And if it’s just the yuppies, it shouldn’t be too bad.”

        https://avatars.mds.yandex.net/get-zen_doc/1593239/pub_5e187c6c3d008800afe2ae7a_5e188726ecfb8000ad88d893/scale_1200

        Minsk is the only real “city” in the entire country. Concentration of… everything… in is inevitable.

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      7. Ukrainian cigarette smuggling is actually one phenomenon I’m familiar with. That’s Zakarpatia. I actually know one former smuggler. He’s a construction worker in Czechia now, moved there after his boss was mowed down by machine gun fire, a couple of years ago. Or so I was told.

        But Zakarpatia, even though technically the west-most region of Ukraine, and was the latest addition to the USSR, and was never part of the Russian empire — nevertheless is not part of “Western Ukraine”, in the cultural/ethnic/political/geopolitical sense. The population is extremely heterogeneous, and there’s no significant russophobia there. See here how they were voting for the Party of Regions in 2012. Western Ukraine, as I understand it, are the 5 regions on the map where the vote is under 16%. Roughly the territory of Austrian Galicia, where Ukrainian/anti-Russian ethnicity was engineered and implemented by Austrians. Also, you can see the Kiev’s vote of only 12% — that’s the effect of pro-western ‘yuppies’, according to my theory.

        Now, back to Belarus. Regardless of when the pieces were added, is there a similar phenomenon, clear nationalist mythology in parts of the country? Something like, in their case, a Belorussian-Polish–Lithuanian identity or something.

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      8. “But Zakarpatia, even though technically the west-most region of Ukraine, and was the latest addition to the USSR, and was never part of the Russian empire — nevertheless is not part of “Western Ukraine”, in the cultural/ethnic/political/geopolitical sense.”

        Like I said – cross-border smuggling is a collective pastime of all borderland oblasts of the Best Ukrajina, not just Zakarpatia. Yes, they are a distinct from Lvov/Lwow and Ivano-Frankovsk/Stanislawow crowd, both ethnically speaking and (partially) ideologically speaking. That’s why I asked to compare more recent electoral results – Poroshenko vs Zelensky:

        Red – Porokh, Green – Zelya. Brown-Yellow – did not vote for either. But that’s for the 2nd electoral round. Now compare and contrast with the 1st round of presidential elections:

        Finally, here’s the electoral map of the Verkhovna Rada elections from the last year’s summer:

        I think it’s a small comfort, that Zakarpatians prefer Yulia Tymoshenko’s brand of nationalism instead of Poroshenko’s. Small uptick in votes for the “Opposition Platform – For Life” (obligatory – “pro-Russian former Party of the Regions”) is explained by the “wise” language policy of Poroshenko’s 5 years in power.

        What I’m trying to say, is that Zakarpatians are without doubt nationalists – they are just their own brand of nationalists. They got along with the former post-Maidan Regime quite well, till just a few years ago. Their outlook, therefore, is to further oppose any strong power emanating from Kiev, no matter the political platform. Currently, it means opposing Zelenski and his initiatives, that might undermine their local power. This makes them a situational allies and “fellow travellers” ™ with Poroshenko and Vakarchuk’s Golos (basically – same as Poroshenko policy-wise, only more money from the international sponsors).

        Ultimately, Zakarpatia is small both geographically and in terms of population, let alone in the economic power. Barring direct intervention by Orban, they’d have to find like-minded nationalist/localist allies in the Ukraine.

        “Now, back to Belarus. Regardless of when the pieces were added, is there a similar phenomenon, clear nationalist mythology in parts of the country? Something like, in their case, a Belorussian-Polish–Lithuanian identity or something.”

        A lot of members of the Byelorussian intelligentsia post 1991 began honestly buying into the myth of them being descendants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (“лицвины”), the best and most civilized part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, let alone head and shoulders above mongolo-katsapian Moskalian East. To absolutely no one’s surprise, quite a lot of the “local history experts” in the Western part of the country AND in Minsk itself (because capitol tends to suck… every kind of person even from the periphery). The increased rate of the revisionist historical publications in recent years, that look just like Polish myths copy-pasta is the inevitable outcome of this local nationalism, helped by cross-border educational and “cultural exchange” trips (let alone by grants money).

        One paradox of the Byelorussia is the relative absence of the small-scale corruption – i.e. road cops, doctors, teachers and municipal officials are pretty much unbribable and do things strictly according to the rules much to exasperation to the visiting Russians, who has both the means and desire to “speed things up”. At the same time, since mid 2014 we have the phenomenon of the “Byelorussian seafood”.

        One common theme here – organization of gray-scheme exports from the EU to Russia – not the other way round. This means, that EU borderland local “enterpreneurs” allowed to flourish for literally decades doing that naturally grew up into their own self-aware class.

        One has to wonder – what, Bat’ka and his top officials had no idea how shrimps and caviar end up in his realm and then proceed to Russia’s stores? KGB (which is in charge of the border guards) and the Ministry of the Internal Affairs of Byelorussia *seriously* know nothing about local “Euroblyakheri” and others using their country as a transit point with the destination being Russia? If you are aware of these channels and entire networks – and deliberately choose to do nothing about it – then you have to know about other murky networks that have a clear and present danger for the national safety. Again, one has to wonder – were the money *had* been too good for everyone all these years?

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      9. Nice maps.
        Yeah, looking at what’s happening in Grodno, it seems that it’s also taking shape of an east-west division, same as Ukraine.

        As for Zakarpatia, you say: “…they are just their own brand of nationalists … Their outlook, therefore, is to further oppose any strong power emanating from Kiev, no matter the political platform.

        I agree on the essence. Yes, they even had a referendum in 91, demanding autonomy. But that’s more like ‘localism’ than nationalism. No unifying ethnic component there, and that’s a big difference compared to Galitchina. It’s even, arguably, a sort of opposite of ‘Ukrainian nationalism’.

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  6. Scanning Russian press (I can’t read Belorussian), so far this is the only thing I saw about anyone actually talking about, or thinking about, going out on strike.

    Article reports that certain celebrities, directors, and reporters in Belorus mainstream media (gov-owned radio and TV stations, etc.) have sympathized with Opps. A bunch of them were fired over the past week, and some of the survivors are threatening to go on strike, they say they have the support of many journalists.

    Luka’s Press Secretary Natalia Eismont just met with some of these folks to work out some kind of deal; probably so they get to keep their jobs.
    Doubt if Prez Luka is shaking in his boots, since all these reporters and meat puppets basically work for him. If they don’t like what they do, he can let them go and hire others to replace them.

    Still nothing about actual, real workers going on strike, or thinking about striking. Why would they? Ordinary people should sacrifice their livelihoods for the likes of this female Juan Guaidó?

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    1. One wonders what the striking workers at MTZ are thinking about. Do they really want to change the way the country runs? The Minsk Tractor Works is a big plant, near the centre of town, and very important for Belarus. The principal market for its products is Russia and their products are well regarded there; helped by the fact that no Russian company produces any tractors in the sizes that MTZ offers (the last Russian producer in that category, Agromash, closed a few years ago).

      MTZ is something of a Soviet era relic; technically competent but lacking in dynamism, particularly in styling and presentation, with quality that, although good in parts, is uneven and a plant that is still massively over-manned.

      Without Russian market support, MTZ, as well as nearly all of the other Belarussian manufacturers, would be finished. Only in rare cases are Belarusian companies world competitive; Belaz is probably the best example.

      If Belarus turned to the west, companies like MTZ would be privatised and either disappear or be scooped up by the globalist vultures that would fly in to fatten themselves on the Belarussian carcass. In any event, most MTZ workers would find themselves on the scrap heap.

      Belarus is what the Soviet Union might have been had the CPSU got off people’s backs, let people travel, let them get rich by running small businesses and stopped persecuting the church. It’s a very amenable place; clean and tidy, everyone has a job, food (and alcohol) is cheap and abundant and it has a wholesome look, unlike its squalid and debauched western neighbours.

      I think the best future for Belarus (and for most of Ukraine for that matter) would be within a union with Russia. Russia has a future, having sunk into the abyss it is climbing out, year by year. The US and Europe are still staring into it. One of the main reasons there is so much resentment directed at Russia is the perception that the worst of their fall is behind them, but the West’s is still to come.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent comment, Craig! I’m still not convinced that the “striking workers” are actually striking, in a formal sense. As opposed to just taking an unauthorized day off as individuals who happen to politically support the Opps (for whatever deluded reasons).
        Naturally Western press will hype this and try to drum up much excitement, as they did with Guaido. To try to make it look like all groups and classes in society are united in support for this female version of Navalny.

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  7. Oh wait! There are some articles about Belorussian strikes. For example, this piece from Izvestia .

    Apparently there actually have been some people walking off the job in various enterprises, including this tractor factory. Maybe not so much a formal strike, let alone a general strike, as just individual workers walking out to go and march in an Opps demonstration.

    Luka’s response: He’s not f**king around. He told the tractor workers that any worker who leaves his post in the course of the working day, will be fired. Says the government has been subsidizing them for years, to help them through this economic crisis, and now they go and stab him in the back. Says there are lots of excess positions in these factories, and anybody who decides to get himself fired, will not be missed, so don’t let the door slam you on the ass on the way out – LOL!

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    1. ” I was alluding to the Polish strikes which led to the fall of the Communist government, is that what you were thinking of too?”

      Yes, I was indeed. There could be some parallels between past events in Poland and current in Belarus.
      The strikes did not start and were not aimed at ending communism. In fact the transition to a new economic and political system started after the elections of 1989 and the original participants of the strikes i.e. industrial workers were excluded from the decision making.
      So one may ask, what are the goals of protesters in Belarus? If such exist, are they in full control of the process? As in Poland, they may get what they do not wish for.
      Another aspect. It is rather interesting how lukewarm the reporting on Belarus by main news agencies is. Too boring, no fighting? Or possibly low expectations regarding the outcome?

      Regards,

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      1. Among the industrial Polish proletariat of that time, Lech Wałęsa was put forward as the leader, and for sure he was pro-Catholic and pro-capitalist as an individual. Whether or not majority of Polish workers wanted to keep some institutions of communism (which I suspect they did), their opinions were not taken into account.
        I reckon it just proves Lenin’s point, that if workers don’t consciously fight FOR socialism, then their efforts and sacrifices will simply be utilized to benefit other classes and other forces. Suckers, basically, to put it bluntly.

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      2. “…Lech Wałęsa was put forward as the leader, and for sure he was pro-Catholic and pro-capitalist as an individual”

        Are you sure he was ‘pro-capitalist’? I had the impression that Solidarity was a decisively socialist, marxist movement (in the sense of classical marxist analysis of socioeconomic phenomena). Some mixture of Catholicism and Marxism.

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    1. There has been some talk of giving Luka a post in the Russian government, maybe like a Vice President spot, or something dignified, to make the merger complete. In medieval times he might marry a Russian princess.

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  8. Meanwhile, looks like some kind of deal is underway between Russia and Belarus. Russian press reported already a second phone conversation between Putin and Batka. Batka in a tough spot and had to offer a major concession to Russia: the return of 32 detained Russian citizens, whom he (Batka) had previously accused of meddling in his election and had threatened to hand over to Ukraine (because many of these so-called “Wagnerites” had fought on the side of DPR/LPR). Ukrainians gnashing their teeth because they don’t get their hands on these guys, who are heading back to Russia.
    What other concessions will Luka have to give, to get Russian help? There is already talk of Russian “military obligations” to help Belarus in the event of foreign interference.
    Russia is not overjoyed with Luka, but yet cannot allow a NATO Iron Curtain to fall, cut off the last remaining outpost between the Baltic and Black Seas. Therefore, Russia would have no choice but to intervene militarily if they see a foreign-sponsored coup gain any traction.

    So, basically, it’s like 1939 all over again!
    And yet Russia is holding quite a lot of cards in this giant poker game, maybe even enough to smoothly replace Luka with a pro-Russian Prez while giving him, as consolation prize, a dignified post in the unified govt?

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  9. Meanwhile, I have been following the events in Minsk as best I can, live transmissions on youtube and reporting of such people as Kots and Shariy. Here’s one link:

    From all appearances, the Opps were able to pull off a huge success today, getting a minimum of half a million into the streets carrying their Nazi collaborationist flag and chanting their various slogans.
    The pictures tell the story, the Opps rally dwarfs the pro-Luka ralley by a factor of (quite a lot).
    From this, it looks like Belorus Maidan is factually on.
    And now I reckon the ball is in Putin’s court. What is Russia going to do about this new color revolution?

    Like

    1. Half a million ???
      That crowd was not that much
      It was large but not half a million

      What are all the passive people at home thinking? As their country is being attacked from within supported by outside elements???

      These people better wake up if they will find themselves in Ukraine like conditions

      Look what happened in Bolivia – the west all claimed the election was fake – evo morales was forced out – now they say the elections were fine!!!!

      Evo morales supporters(the majority indigenous peoples) are now trying to campaign and be heard and being met with violence and bans.

      Madura on the other hand mobilised his support quickly to the streets

      Erdogan did the same in much desperate circumstances

      Belarusian those people out ther beyong Minsk need to make sure that they are not swept along to consequences that are obvious to see.

      This is not a uprising for the people this is a western backed coup attempt

      Like

      1. Hi, Guest. The half a million estimate includes the people in Brest, Grodno and other places, besides Minsk. Might be an over-estimate, but my point is that the Opps pulled off a real success yesterday, and people should look that in the eye and see the danger, rather than trying to pooh pooh.

        These pro-Nazi Belorussian Opps turned out to be a lot more numerous and successful than people (including myself) thought they would, that is the reality that needs to be faced.

        Was following several live-feeds yesterday, I apologize that I did not have time to write down links or names of analysts, thus my report is somewhat vague. I will try to correct this by writing a decent blogpost later this week, hopefully.

        But basically, there were 2 highlights that I took away from this yesterday:
        1. One analyst (I think on Soloviev’s show) was an expert in religion. He recounted how the Belorussian pro-Nazi Opps have been infiltrating the Orthodox Church; in their parishes people sing Nazi songs from WWII. Also Opps have a fully worked out (probably been working on it for years) plan to split off and form their own Autocephaly the moment that Luka is replaced with their Juanita Guaido.
        2. Little known fact: Belorussian military is intimately linked with both Russian and Chinese, and produce parts that are so secret they would have to kill you if you knew. Which points to one of NATO’s true objects here, if they grab this country they might grab these secrets too, which could have disastrous consequences for Russia in the future war that is to come. Therefore it behooves Russia to secure those secrets. The good news is that the Belorussian military is still behind Luka (as far as we know), so might be more Venezuela than Bolivia.

        Apologize again for my lack of links and footnotes. But the take-away is that this thing has obviously been in the works for a very long time. Hey, you don’t just produce a kilometer-long Nazi flag overnight, even with Betsy Ross and a hundred sewing machines.

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  10. Thank you for your response Yalensis,

    I take your point that there is a great danger.

    If it goes the way of Ukraine – a new group will come to power and get paid by their western patrons.

    The people who are sitting at home passively accepting this colour revolution will end up subjected to neoliberal policies. Look at Ukraine.

    How did they plan this – Lukachenko must take the blame for his multi- vector policy and I was shocked that they have so many western NGOs active in Belarus.

    Shaking hands with Pompeo -what a fool worse than Yanukovic

    Coronavirus gave these people leverage to start complaining and protesting.

    Also today the new “Juanita Guido” like this name!!!!
    – said she is ready to lead the nation – hold on yesterday this was about free and fair elections – today she is making a video saying that she is ready to lead.

    Another one of the opposition who ran off to Ukraine says that he will be conducting video conference with Democrats and Republicans.

    I would have thought that the people in Belarus would have learned from what happened to Ukraine and not fall for this same tricks.

    Young people getting involved in NGOs needs to be banned – it should be a crime to subvert the country.

    I see the pictures of these stupid girls with flowers – these foot soldiers will end up scrubbing floors or performing other activities for money – if there country power structure collapses !!!!

    The only option is for the security apparatus to stand strong against all this nonsense- as they did for Maduro

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    1. Thanks, Guest. Many people feel that Lukashenko himself created the seeds of his own destruction. Firstly, by following a multi-vector policy and trying to be “too cute by half”, as the Americans say.
      Secondly, by encouraging Belorussian nationalism as a tool for building his own little empire. Then it became a golem which now tries to devour him.
      Thirdly, the guy is simply a prick and a bully. But on the other hand, he is rather capable in many ways and has indeed built something pretty good, by all accounts. Is a tragic figure, like King Lear, who unwittingly gave away his own kingdom to the Reagans and Gonorrheas and other horrendous daughters of his society.

      But main point now is maybe to support this jerk, even while holding nose, because the alternative, the NATO-Nazis, are just so much more evil, in the scheme of things.

      Like

  11. Comment I posted earlier, with Belorussian Opps political platform, and I wasn’t sure if it was a fake or not because it seemed so over the top…

    Turns out it was NOT a fake.
    Here is the English-language version, which I took from Stalker Zone :

    “Priority measures (until 2021). in the political sphere:
    Withdrawal from the ‘Union State’, the Eurasian Union, the Customs Union, and other integration entities where Russia dominates;
    Ban pro-Russian organisations whose activities are contrary to national interests, as well as Russian foundations and organisations that finance such structures;
    Introduction of criminal liability for public statements that challenge the existence of a separate Belarusian nation and/or its historical right to its own state. Introduction of criminal liability for public insults to the Belarusian language;
    Civic society monitoring of pro-Kremlin initiatives in Belarus;
    Implementation of border and customs control at the border with Russia”.
    “Returning the Belarusian language to the status of the only state language, guaranteeing the rights of national minorities to education and cultural activities in their native language;
    Development and implementation of administrative and financial measures to stimulate Belarusian-language media, book publishing, and cultural life. Return of state surcharges for training and education in the Belarusian language in pre school secondary and higher educational institutions;
    Conduct the comprehensive de-communisation and de-Sovietisation of Belarus;
    The Belarusisation of the religious life of all Christian denominations and other religions;
    The Belarusisation of the education system at all levels and forms”.

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    1. This is truly shocking and frightening for the people.

      If these people come to power – Belorussian people will be subjected to real terror and the west will turn a blind eye

      Just like they do in Ukraine and the Baltic’s where we have real glorification of Nazis.

      Merkel and Germany never say anything about this – shows who they really are as well deep down

      Like

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