Quango Belaya Rus offers a pre-election deal
On March 22, in a meeting of the Presidium of the quango Belaya Rus [White Russia], Chairman Mr. Radkov said that during the parliamentary elections in the autumn the organization would support “like-minded” candidates along with candidates affiliated with the organization.
The upcoming election campaign will try the mobilization capacity of Belaya Rus. Mr. Radkov said, the organization intended have an extended impact on the campaign: including appointment of its members to electoral commissions, establishment of election headquarters and agitation.
Such plans are feasible: Belaya Rus has 128 219 members, including senior officials, for instance, Mr. Radkov (Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration), Mr. Guminsky (Vice-Speaker of the Parliament), as well as directors of enterprises and government agencies, where the voting takes place.
Statement of Mr. Radzkou suggests that the scale of participation of Belaya Rus in the campaign will depend on a clear signal from President Lukashenko regarding the most important issue for the organization, namely, its transformation into a political party. That is why during the meeting of the Presidium Mr. Radkov announced the creation of a working group, headed by Mr. Guminsky, which will address the issue of transformation.
For information, all previous attempts of the leadership of Belaya Rus to lobby the issue of transformation were unsuccessful: Lukashenko is not interested in changing the political and particularly electoral system of Belarus.
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.