“Batkivshchyna – 2020”: what awaits Belarus on August 9

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The presidential campaign in Belarus is entering its final phase, and on August 9 it will become known whether the current leader of the republic, Alexander Lukashenko, will once again be able to retain his seat… According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, almost certainly the victory, as in previous years, starting from 1994, will be won by the current head of state… However, how the opposition-minded part of society will perceive this is a big question. Besides, after the elections Minsk is likely to release 33 detained Russians who allegedly prepared terrorist attacks in the country, according to the State Duma. The situation with the citizens of the Russian Federation on August 7 was first discussed at the level of the presidents of the two states.

Who is the last presidential

Early voting in the presidential elections in Belarus began on August 4, by the 7th the turnout exceeded 22%. There are actually two candidates who are really fighting for the post – the current leader Alexander Lukashenko and the housewife, wife of the arrested blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, Svetlana. Anna Kanopatskaya, Andrey Dmitriev and Sergey Cherecheni are also officially participating in the campaign. However, according to experts, Alexander Lukashenko should definitely not write them down as competitors. Since the country does not actually conduct sociological polls about the political preferences of citizens, it is very difficult to predict the alignments. Nevertheless, judging by the rallies that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya managed to gather, the opposition electorate is really concentrated around her. According to various estimates, the number of participants in the actions reached 60 thousand people.

And no matter how the opposition tries to promote to the masses the thesis that Alexander Lukashenko enjoys the support of only 3% of voters, at the moment it is most likely that he will again become the President of the Republic of Belarus

– I think that in the current situation, most likely, Lukashenka will win. There is no reason to doubt the official outcome of the elections. I.e the government will still be re-elected, but the intrigue is how society will perceive it– Kirill Koktysh, associate professor of the Department of Political Theory of MGIMO, told Izvestia.

In his opinion, it is impossible to call Svetlana Tikhanovskaya an opposition in the usual sense, since she does not belong either to the pro-Western, or to the pro-nationalistic, or to any other traditional forces. Rather, she is the personification of the moods that have concentrated around her figure.

The peculiarity of the current race is that after the likely victory of Alexander Lukashenko, there are real risks of mass protests. However, how events will develop after August 9 depends on many factors.

– Tikhanovskaya managed to gather very large-scale rallies in her support, which have not happened since the second half of the 1990s. Therefore, the likelihood of protests is high. But the authorities are going to react rather harshly and send the appropriate messages to the society. It is clear that rigidity is also a part of management. That is, if you promise a serious reaction and do not allow anyone to doubt it, then thus many will not dare to go out into the street, – Kirill Koktysh explained.

Post-election rallies are also possible in the event of the intervention of external forces that are interested in destabilizing the situation in the state allied to Russia, said Denis Denisov, director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology.

– The key issue is the stability of the political system and the adequacy of actions by the state leadership. Belarus must pass the presidential campaign with dignity and, most importantly, not plunge the country into a state of chaos and lawlessness, the expert told Izvestia.

The fate of the Russians

One way or another, questions to the Belarusian authorities will not disappear from society anywhere after August 9, and the leadership of the republic will have to find answers to them, Kirill Koktysh noted. This, first of all, concerns the situation in the economy.

– Moreover, now Minsk will have to look for answers in a new situation, when even Russia was included in the list of potential opponents… Until now, the authorities have been legitimized precisely because they could always come to an agreement with Moscow. Now this ability seems to be in question, – added the political scientist.

The detention of 33 Russians near Minsk on the night of July 29 seriously spoiled the atmosphere of Russian-Belarusian relations… The republic’s authorities suspect the citizens of the Russian Federation of intending to destabilize the situation in the country, as well as of preparing terrorist acts. On August 6, the media reported that the arrest was a special operation of the Security Service of Ukraine, which managed to mislead the Belarusian colleagues. By the way, Kiev has already discussed with Minsk their possible extradition to Ukraine, allegedly due to participation in an armed conflict in the east of the country.

On August 7, the fate of the detainees was first discussed at the level of the presidents of Russia and Belarus. In a telephone conversation, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko expressed confidence that the situation that had arisen would be resolved in the spirit of mutual understanding “characteristic of cooperation between the two countries,” the Kremlin press service said.

As Izvestia was told in the State Duma, information about the Ukrainian trace in the case of the Russians could be a decisive moment for their release. According to Viktor Vodolatsky, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, the Ukrainian special services deliberately misinformed Minsk in order to destroy fraternal relations between Russia and Belarus

– I said from the very beginning that 33 citizens who flew through Belarus to a third country were not going to stop there. They became hostages of the special operation of the service, which played out this action and provoked Minsk into inappropriate actions, the parliamentarian assured Izvestia.

He also emphasized: if the Belarusian special services had approached more attentively the verification of the information “slipped by Ukraine”, this story would not have happened at all.

After the presidential elections, our citizens will be released and I hope that they will receive compensation, – added Viktor Vodolatsky.

Meanwhile, according to Denis Denisov, if the information about the Ukrainian trace is officially confirmed, this will become the most important incentive for a very in-depth analysis of Russian-Belarusian relations.

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