“Tell the Truth!” to suspend negotiations about single candidate and to focus on working with electorate
On February 27th, “Tell the Truth!” civil campaign leaders announced that they were temporarily suspending participation in the negotiations about a single opposition candidate in the 2015 presidential elections.
“Tell the Truth!” suspended its participation in the negotiations about the single opposition candidate nomination in the upcoming presidential elections, which means in 2013 the single candidate will hardly be nominated. “Tell the Truth!”, “For Freedom” movements and the Belarusian People’s Front will focus on working with electorate and preparing for the local elections.
“Tell the Truth!” explained its withdrawal from the negotiations process by the lack of fruitful results in the short term. One part of the opposition, led by Anatoly Lebedko and the United Civil Party, insists on holding primaries, but other political forces do not support the idea. The BPF and “For Freedom” are not ready to decide about the procedure or to nominate Milinkevich. Other opposition parties are far from clear views in this regard.
Paradoxically, it is possible, that “Tell the Truth!” is trying to speed up the process of identifying a candidate from the coalition of the three – “Tell the Truth!”, “For Freedom” and the BPF. “Tell the Truth’s!” coalition partners nevertheless continue taking part in the single opposition candidate nomination process. BPF Chairman Mr. Yanukevich and Deputy Chairman of the “For Freedom” movement Mr. Gubarevich support negotiations to determine a single candidate.
At the same time, “TT”, “FF” and the BPF called for cooperation in the forthcoming elections to the local Councils, which may kick off as early as December 2013. In preparation to these elections “TT” plans to enhance its strategy “civil contract” and to nominate over 1000 candidates to the local Councils.
As for the joint actions of all opposition, in 2013 they will be limited to participation in quasi-political projects, such as the celebration of the memorable historical events: Kalinowski’s appraisal, 95th Anniversary of the BPR, and the Freedom Day.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.