August 2, 2021

“The Lukashenko problem is inextricably linked to the Putin problem”

LEurope is engaged in an inevitable confrontation with the dictator in Minsk and his armed repressive organs. On May 23, Alexander Lukashenko played with the lives of 170 passengers aboard a Ryanair plane, to get hold of a young opponent in exile in Vilnius and extort public confessions from him by torture, in a country where he risks death. death sentence.

Since being defeated in the presidential election in August 2020 and contested by almost all of Belarusian society, Lukashenko has lived in fear of the downfall and revenge of his people. He poses a serious threat to his people and to neighboring countries. Democratic states have taken note of the regime’s criminality and adopted urgent measures: ban on overflight, targeted sanctions, political and economic pressure. But how to disarm a despot supported by another, more powerful despot?

Read also Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus, an increasingly isolated regime that hunts down its adversaries

The Lukashenko problem is inextricably linked with the Putin problem. The two regimes employ violent methods, mistreat their populations and maintain a climate of insecurity inside and outside their borders.

They claim to keep power indefinitely in a climate of fear and economic crisis: brutal repression by court judges and thanks to iniquitous legislation, assassinations of opponents and “traitors” abroad, poisoning in Alexei’s Novichok. Navalny, who almost died a second time in an internment camp in March 2021, hijackings in Belarus and Russia (the plane that brought Navalny to Moscow in January was rerouted from one airport to another). And, since 2008, the Russian military has conducted armed operations in Georgia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Syria and Africa.

The Russian and Belarusian leaders are in permanent transgression. They have sold off their institutional legitimacy and are fighting to stay in power, which, they believe, assures them of impunity. The majority of their subjects – deprived of civil rights, they are no longer citizens – want to free themselves from arbitrariness and corruption, to build a rule of law, a well-governed society, to live better and in peace.

The big is pulled down by the little one

The two autocrats have a complicated relationship. The Russian can neither control nor abandon the Belarusian. He does not want to conquer Belarus nor to let it “pass to the West”. The spells of the two men are linked in a sort of criminal association, one and the other embedded in a mad spiral.

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