Opposition plays with authorities as one team?

Belarus’s former deputy foreign minister Andrei Sannikov believes that Lukashenka has been pushed from outside the country in order to escalate the conflict with the United States and the West in general. Political analyst Alexander Potupa says that anti-Russian attitudes of the opposition in Belarus prevent it from finding political allies in the Kremlin. Moscow-based commentator Andrei Suzdaltsev accuses the opposition of conspiring with the regime.

Debates about Belarus possibly losing its sovereignty recently grabbed a new momentum following a fresh blow to the relations between Minsk and Washington following a brutal crack down on opposition activists and independent media on March 25 and March 27. The dispersal of a peaceful demonstration and searches at the offices and apartments of journalists also led to the deterioration of relations with the European Union. As a result, talks started to hover that Belarus could soon end up in Moscow’s embrace.

Former deputy foreign minister Andrei Sannikov went even further by stating in one of his interviews that Lukashenka is preparing Belarus for surrender to Russia by escalating a conflict with the US and EU. In respond, youth opposition leader Pavel Sevyarynets said that if this surrender takes place, Belarusians will start a resistance rebellion.

The European Radio for Belarus called Andrei Sannikov to elucidate on his comments. Sannikov said:

“What is happening now cannot be explained by the logic of relations between Belarus and the West. I did not say that it would happen for sure. I was saying that the Belarusian authorities opted for the escalation of the conflict so unexpectedly that my feeling was as if they were being pushed from outside. It is a very dangerous situation. It can change to either direction. I think that independence of this country should be a priority. We should come to democratization processes through independence”.

The former deputy foreign minister would not elaborate on who was pushing the Belarusian leadership from outside. However, he would not rule out that the pushing was done by the Kremlin.

In the view of political analyst Alexander Potupa, the incorporation of Belarus into Russia is not possible. The Belarusian authorities do not want that. Otherwise, it would be sufficient to introduce the Russian currency in Belarus. That would automatically make Belarus one of Russia’s federal regions, according to Potupa. Therefore, all the talk of the opposition about the incorporation of Belarus by Russia is only preventing it from finding support in the Kremlin.

“I think there is no realistic threat for Belarus to become the eights federal region of Russia. I have not seen any serious analysis that this could be possible. What it is important to understand that the Belarusian leadership uses successfully this card against the opposition. Apparently, commentators have nothing to do; they start fancying up various ideas that the Kremlin is against the opposition where the majority does not want to quarrel with Russia. The authorities make a very good use of this situation to their advantage by making political ties between the opposition and the Kremlin almost impossible”, Potupa said.

Moscow-based commentator Andrei Suzdaltsev also agreed that there were no plans or signed agreements about Belarus becoming a part of Russia. Moreover, he is confident that opposition’s attacks on Russia help Lukashenka. He even suggests that Lukashenka and Sannikov act in accordance with the same plane.

“Sannikov takes part in Lukashenka’s campaign to clash the pro-Western vector with the pro-Eastern one. This is a totally coordinated campaign. Several weeks ago, Lukashenka said if the West keeps pressing on him, he will turn to cooperate with Russia. The opposition is repeating the same things”.

Suzdaltsev believes that there is actually no true conflict between the official Minsk and the West. There is a very difficult dialogue and talks. The goal of these talks is to convince their opponents that Lukashenka has a legitimate intention to run for the fourth term in the presidential office. Allegedly, the opposition is not helping him in that.

“The goal is that the West will get scared and agree to any conditions of Lukashenka”.

Former deputy foreign minister Andrei Sannikov described these accusations as absurd and refused to comment on them.