Democrats' plan for 'after Lukashenka'
Disappearance of Lukashenka doesn't automatically mean that prisons will open.
During the May 9 parade, social networks rushed to diagnose Aliaksandr Lukashenka based on his photos. Instead of analyzing Lukashenka's state of health, Euroradio decided to analyze the plans of the democratic forces in case of possible major political turbulences - if Belarus suddenly finds itself without a ruler.
The advisor of the office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Franak Viachorka said that "there is a plan, but it is not general and without any details." According to Viachorka, the office has "six scenarios", which they worked out back in 2021. Viachorka did not answer further questions from Euroradio.
Pavel Latushka, a representative of the United Transitional Cabinet for the Transition of Power, admits that in such a case Russia will try to put "its puppet" in power. But he does not say how the cabinet plans to prevent this. For example, "today we can't ask in which direction the AFU plan to counterattack, so it wouldn't be worth revealing our plans".
Probably, we will have to diagnose dem's plans in the same way as social networks diagnosed Lukashenks's: either through photos or in consultation with conspiracy theorists. To avoid conspiracy theories, we asked politicians, political observers, and experts about the readiness of democratic forces to seize power.
Artsiom Shraibman: "The democrats will have the same tools in less stable circumstances".
The "disappearance" of Lukashenka as a person from the political arena does not mean that prisons and borders will automatically open, says political analyst Artsiom Shraibman in a conversation with Euroradio.
In fact, the opposition will have the same tools it has now. Only the circumstances will be less stable. The democrats will probably try to take advantage of this instability.
"An attempt can be made to call for protests if there is an understandable reason. They could try to activate the Peramoha plan. But what is the status of this plan? I don't know. Besides, I would expect the authorities to realize the risks, put troops on the streets, and cut off all possibilities of destabilizing the streets. This is all speculative, though, and Franak is right that there could be many scenarios."
I do not see any signs that the opposition has this plan -- but I have not asked. I do not think it is possible to think of a universal plan, because it is not clear how events will develop at this point.
Nor is it certain that Moscow will act immediately. I don't think they are preparing for such a scenario. But they will try to lobby their interests, they will have contacts with the people who will temporarily take power. They will make sure that these people do not cross any red lines.
Shraibman refuses - unlike some "experts" in social networks - to assess Lukashenka's health on the basis of the video:
"I'm not an expert on Lukashenka's health. Of course, a 70-year-old man can have health crises. But he could not refuse a trip to Moscow. His absence would have been too conspicuous, given that all the other CIS leaders were there. He went in spite of his poor health, and we see what the result was."
CC spokesman Andrei Yahorau: "The political regime in Belarus does not equal Lukashenka"
There have been no public discussions on this issue within the CC, admits Yahorau.
"The political regime in Belarus is not only Lukashenka, but also his entourage and the system of power. In case of any turbulence, this system will not necessarily survive. But in the worst case, it will be able to solve its problems and try to continue the life of this regime without Lukashenka. That is, there may not be a sudden change.
But when the people of this system do not come to an agreement with each other, the quarrels and internal divisions will begin, when the various groups seek support from the political forces outside the system."
Speaking about who the democrats can count on, Yahorau admits that he "bets" on Ukraine.
Latushka: "People will take to the streets and businesses will stop working".
In Sviatlana Tsikhanouska's interim cabinet, Latushka is dealing with the issue of the transition of power. He assured the Euroradio correspondent that the cabinet has a plan for this kind of turbulence. But he will not tell us about it. Just like General Zaluzhnyi does not tell us in which direction the main blow of the Ukrainian counter-offensive will be launched.
"If Lukashenka leaves unexpectedly, a group of the so-called elite close to him will try to stay in power to avoid punishment for his crimes. There will be an attempt at Russian influence from the outside, and Russia will do much to bring its puppet to power.
"I think - given the strong control of Russia - we will have a collective Lukashenka. And the siloviki will play an important role in the development of relations within the ruling group.
Let us remember the example of Uzbekistan. In the first days after the death of Islam Karimov, it was not reported anywhere. But there was an internal meeting. And for the first time an agreement was reached, as a result of which Merziyev was elected president.
And in Belarus, I think the first reaction would be to try to prevent Lukashenka's death from being made public, so as not to lose control of the situation. But it would be difficult: the Belarusian system today is not as consolidated as it was in Uzbekistan.
But why keep it quiet? To gain time and to have time to decide who will replace Lukashenka, Usau thinks. According to the new constitution, Natallia Kachanava is to take this role. However, the Euroradio interlocutor believes that Aliaksandr Valfovich could take power, possibly with the support of Russia.
"The Russians will create their own lobby. But it will be dangerous to organize elections in such a situation. First of all, who will be invited to these elections?"
Fridman: Window of opportunity could open if Russia "does not care about Belarus"
Historian Aliaksandr Fridman also points to the experience of post-Soviet countries that have already experienced such turbulence. The struggle for power in Turkmenistan, for example, brought to power a man whom few people knew at the time, but who had a firm grip on power -- Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
"Take the example of Stalin: while he was dying, his entourage was already sharing power. The main wish was that Stalin wouldn't get better."
If something like that happens in Belarus, in a system oriented toward one person, the results may be unpredictable.
As for Kachanava, who, according to the new constitution, should take power in such a situation, Fridman notes: "They only see her as weak. But we do not know what Kachanava is in reality, since all the officials in Lukashenka's inner circle are "gray".