By Paul Goble
The Lukashenka regime is reacting to the popular protests in a completely inadequate way, Dmitry Galko says. It thinks it must take steps to ward off a Ukrainian-style Maidan even though that is impossible in Belarus and as a result it is bringing closer a more horrific scenario involving “an unorganized and spontaneous popular rising.”
On the BelarusPartisan portal, the Belarusian commentator says that there are only “three variants” of a way out of the current impasse: the introduction of martial law, a real revolution, or “broad concessions to civil society … a significant transformation of the system and a transition … to dialogue” (belaruspartisan.org/politic/373488/).
Only the last of these would be something positive for Belarus, but if the authorities choose “not it but the first, then things will quickly shift to the second; and the second in turn in an attempt at occupation by the cursed ally [in this case, the Russian Federation], with all ensuring charms,” Galko says.
But the Lukashenka regime is not preparing for any of these three scenarios, he says; it is preparing for “a fourth – the repetition in Belarus of a Ukrainian Maidan,” something that Galko says “under our conditions is completely realistic.”
Many people assume that the Ukrainian Maidan was a revolution; but it wasn’t, the Belarusian analyst says. “It grew into an uprising which ended with the flight of Yanukovich and the collapse of the ruling Party of the Regions, two months after it began.”
The events lasted that long, he continues, “not because a critical mass of people” did not come into the streets capable of overthrowing the powers that be in Kyiv but rather because the Ukrainians at the Maidan did not set as their goal his overthrow.
“Despite the assertions of the opponents of the Maidan, Galko says, who insist that “it was a state overthrow, in fact, the Maidan was an instrument of pressure by the opposition on the authorities, a factor of in part public and in part behind the scenes negotiations.” And the Ukrainian opposition opposed anything more radical in order to achieve its ends.
The Ukrainian opposition “achieved a political victory with minimal costs. The political leaders of the Maidan were an opposition not in the Belarusian sense of the word, that is, not a semi-underground and permanently persecuted group of dissidents, but part of the system of power in Ukraine.”
“At a definite moment, “the opposition politicians were ready to reach an agreement with Yanukovich.” But the Ukrainian president grew frightened and fled and power passed into the hands of the crowd. When that happened, Galko says, “the Maidan began to be transformed from a factor of negotiation into an uprising.”
But in Belarus, “there will not be a Maidan because in Belarus there is no politics, no space for negotiations, no subjects for negotiation, and no one to reach agreement with.” That doesn’t mean, however, “that we will not have a revolution. Just the reverse: revolutions can occur over a few days when the moment arises.”
“It is practically impossible to struggle against a broad popular uprising,” Galko says, unless you have as many tanks as they do in China. “But for this, one must be China. And Belarus isn’t China.”
A Belarusian revolution can be forestalled “only by broad concessions to society which is simply bubbling with dissatisfaction. Using more repression won’t work. On the contrary, such a step will only accelerate things.”
According to Galko, “it would be better if the [Minsk] authorities would keep in their head a picture not from Kyiv in 2013-2014 but rather the Romanian revolution of 1989 which began more than suddenly, lasted only a week, and ended as everyone knows in ways very bad fr the ruling hierarchy.”
“Among East European countries of the socialist camp,” he continues, “Romania was the least democratic or ‘the harshest’ if one uses the terminology of the Belarusian president, with ideal order … [And] therefore the overthrow of communism became there were quick and extremely bloody.”
And he concludes: “the more ‘velvet’ were the regimes in the socialist camp, the more peaceful changes occurred in them. This is a completely logical pattern,” about which Belarusians in general and Alyaksandr Lukashenka should be thinking, especially when the population is so dissatisfied and angry.