Violent suppressions of mass political protests in Belarusian cities have finally buried Lukashenko’s legitimacy within the country. However, anchoring Russia’s power and its propaganda apparatus created the illusion for “Europe’s last dictator” that he would still manage to remain in power.
It was against this background that a political theater called the “inauguration of President Lukashenko” took place on September 23. The former Belarusian leader’s fear of his own people forced him to arrange the procedure secretly without any high-ranking foreign politicians and diplomats being present. Therefore, all this resembles a sham and it proves that Lukashenko has serious problems with a real control of power. The so-called “inauguration” took place against the Belarusian people’s will, – the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Joseph Borel commented on the event. It is not officially recognized by Slovakia, Lithuania, Germany, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark and Estonia. Canada and Great Britain have even imposed sanctions on the Belarusian dictator, his son Viktor and a number of Belarusian officials.
The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba on his Twitter also underlined that the secret inauguration did not mean Lukashenko’s legitimacy. Turkmenistan is the only country to send its congratulations. The French President Emanuel Macron, for his part, met with the Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who lately has travelled abroad in increasing frequency (currently she is in Lithuania) and participated in meetings at the European venues. Thus, the situation in Belarus is gradually becoming similar to the one in Venezuela when the West recognizes the opposition leader Juan Guaido and the Kremlin and its allies support Venezuelan dictator Maduro.
Lukashenko’s “inauguration” became a kind of symbolic act of surrendering to Russia the components of Belarusian sovereignty. Moscow does not abandon the idea of absorbing its western neighbor in the framework of the Union State project. Non-recognition of the former Belarusian leader’s “re-election” by Western powers means the uncertainty about legitimate power and thus the loss of the international subjectivity. Given that the Kremlin is trying to provide full support to the current Belarusian regime, by these actions it is blocking the Western vector of development for the state and the people. The “inauguration” has significantly lowered the status of official Minsk as a contractual entity.
Perhaps “Europe’s last dictator” is already in the final stages of his long political cycle of rule. However, this is no reason for the Belarusian people and their international partners to relax, as they want the country to develop democratically and fully join the European family. After all, even if Lukashenko is removed from power and democratic elections are announced, the Kremlin will still actively participate in the Belarusian political process. There is a threat that Russia will try to get the president who is loyal to its whims even more than his/her predecessor. Ukraine should take this into account too, as it faces the danger of gaining the additional zone of instability and potential aggression on its borders.
The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.