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Friday, April 28, 2006

Lukashenko Begins the Arrests of Political Rivals

The blogosphere is ablaze with stories about how Adolph Lukashenko has begun to arrest those who challenged him in the recent s0-called "election" for the presidency of Belarus, in which, of course, Russia actively supported Lukashenko's return to power. Starting with Alyaksandr Milinkevich, pictured.

One can only speculate about how long it will be before Lukashenko starts the killings. One is reminded of Russia, and the sudden killing of Galina Starovoitova just before she could gain a serious political foothold. Coopt them or kill them, that is the neo-Soviet model. Jail is just an intermediary step, a means to an end.

34 comments:

Michael van der Galien said...

Wauw, I was not aware of this. I must say I am getting frustrated with the dictator Putin. It is completely obvious the man is nothing but a modern dictator, but somehow nobody pays the attention to it.

Of course Lukashenko is more of an 'oldtimer' in his approach. What I do not understand is how the MSM is ignoring this brutal dictator in the Soviet style.

La Russophobe said...

Thanks for the comment!

You are quite right of course, and the scariest thing of all is that some people speculate that Putin may choose Lukashenko to be his successor, so that Russia and Belarus can be united as was done in the old days of monarchs and marriage.

And the most interesting question of all is why Russians would freely choose to be governed by a proud KGB spy after the KGB killed more Russians than Hitler and destroyed the USSR.

But as they say, Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery surounded by an enigma.

Lyndon said...

OK, I'll bite. "Some people speculate" that Bat'ka will be VVP's hand-picked successor?! Who are those "some people," pray tell? Just the facts, please.

La Russophobe said...

LYNDON: OK, I'll reel you in. As just one example, in the March 21 issue of the “Moscow Times columnist Alexei Pankin predicted that Lukashenko would succeed Putin. Pankin cited the just-published Levada Center survey, commissioned by the national daily “Kommersant,” that found only 25% of the respondents wanted to see Lukashenko president of Russia -- and 60% did not. However, Pankin continued, of the 62% of the listeners who called in their vote on an Internet survey, 46% voted for Lukashenko and 50% for his opposition. “Internet users in Russia are the minority of the population,” Pankin explained. “With better educations and higher salaries than average, they represent the contingent that should have given results close to those obtained by the Levada Center. But the votes were almost evenly split.” Pankin’s conclusion: by controlling not just the news media but the voting booths as well, a well-organized candidate such as Lukashenko could win in Russia.

See http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/03/21/007.html

One commonly discussed scenario is that Putin will seek reunification of Belarus and Russia and become president of the new entity, with Lukashenko as his vice president and successor. This would allow Putin to sidestep violation of the Constitutional two-term limit. The veep and successorship would be Lukashenko's incentive to back the deal.

Lyndon said...

That article is fascinating, thanks for pointing it out. I guess it could happen, but I think there is too much money involved for VVP's inner circle to let a relative outsider come in and take over. It looked to me like Pankin's point was that Lukashenko would win only if there were actually free, non-media-manipulated elections in Russia (or if the "administrative resource" were used to back Lukashenko, which seems unlikely), and I don't think that will happen in 2008. But who knows - Russia is full of surprises.

La Russophobe said...

I didn't comment on how likely it was, I only said that the possibility is scary. Try to stick to the point if you can, it leads to a higher quality of discourse. You don't comment on whether you think the idea of Lukashenko becoming president of Russia is scary or not, so you're going off on (from my point of view) a meaningless tangent.

You may say it's unlikely and I may agree, but most people thought it was pretty damned unlikely that Putin would be elected just because Yeltsin said so. Yet, it happened. Many wouldn't have thought it likely that the Soviet anthem would be revived or elected governships abolished, but in Russia many "unlikely" things have happened.

And the fact is, Lukashenko taking over isn't even the worst that can be imagined.

Anonymous said...

It is remarkable that good old La Russophobe rants on "Daddy" Lukashenko. Thanks for making it clear that attacks on him are not particularly Russia-friendly.

La Russophobe said...

Oh, sorry, did "russophobe" confuse you? I'll try to get some pictures next time to help you figure it out.

Michael van der Galien said...

No problem of course, I am highly fascinated with Belarus, although I must admit it lost my attention within a couple of days after the elections. So I am just as guilty as the MSM is I guess.

I do not agree with those who speculate about that; I think that even Putin will understand that something like that is unacceptable to most. I am wondering whether or not Putin will even allow a successor in 2008. I would not be suprised if Putin decides that he should be able to rule for the rest of his life. He replaced political opponents everywhere, in Parliament, installed his buddies as mayors, kicked out powerful / rich businessmen, controls the media, the list continues.

Michael van der Galien said...

Sorry for the double post, but:
One commonly discussed scenario is that Putin will seek reunification of Belarus and Russia and become president of the new entity, with Lukashenko as his vice president and successor. This would allow Putin to sidestep violation of the Constitutional two-term limit. The veep and successorship would be Lukashenko's incentive to back the deal.

To a degree I dó see this happening. I only wonder whether or not Lukashenko is willing to give up his power. Most dictators are highly paranoid, so I don't know about that.

But, indeed, I find it very likely that Putin will try to go around his 'limit'. Whether he will try to achieve that by changing the law, or in other ways such as you described, I don't know, but it seems quite likely that Putin is not willing to step down anytime soon.

La Russophobe said...

triple post if you like! all the views you care to express are welcome here. :)

Michael van der Galien said...

Thanks for the friendly words!

La Russophobe said...

It's nothing really, your comments are thoughtful and add value to the blog.

The really interesting thing will be if Putin does step down, to figure out whether he is behind the scenes pulling the strings.

Of course, it would be child's play for him to have the constitution changed or to fuse with Belarus and take over the new entity.

If nothing else, Russian politics is always a good soap opera.

InplainviewMonitor said...

Oh, sorry, did "russophobe" confuse you? I'll try to get some pictures next time to help you figure it out.

It is quite clear that "fight for democracy" in Belarus is 100% geopolitical. I can't imagine how pics can change this.

La Russophobe said...

The racists in the South said Martin Luther King was 100% geopolitical.

InplainviewMonitor said...

The racists in the South said Martin Luther King was 100% geopolitical.

MLK was accused of working for Fidel Castro? Never heard about this.

La Russophobe said...

INPLAINVIEW: gee, is your "world" of geopolitics limited to Cuba, USA and Russia? That's a pity. Vaguely reminds me of Russians saying a meeting is "international" if it involves Moldova, Belarus and Russia.

Seriously, I'd suggest you read a few volumes on MLK, you'd find it interesting. The rednecks accused him of everything from being a Soviet spy to a closet Jew infiltrator from Israel. And the FBI had a rather thick file on him too.

InplainviewMonitor said...

La Russophobe: Seriously, I'd suggest you read a few volumes on MLK, you'd find it interesting. The rednecks accused him of everything

IMO, MLK is a rough American equivalent of Gagarin, so MLK day in the US is like April 12 in Russia.

-- Both Gagarin and MLK were really nice people who achieved quite a lot. Ridiculing them is completely inappropriate.

-- Both were subjected to heavy ideologization which completely obscured their images and actual historical contributions.

-- Both Gagarin's and MLK's cases are now in real danger. Russian space program is known to be in shambles. As for the US, open racism is replaced by huge and widening social inequality - Katrina showed this very clearly.

La Russophobe said...

INPLAINVIEW: interesting comparison. Would you say, as some do, that they are also similar in being assasinated?

InplainviewMonitor said...

Would you say, as some do, that they are also similar in being assasinated?

Absolutely no. Assassination of Gagarin is a conspiracy theory, he never had problems with the authorities.

InplainviewMonitor said...

2006-04-30 Trouble with Serbia

La Russophobe said...

Absolutely no is a bit too strong, isn't it? I mean, after all, you weren't there. Wasn't it a problem that he was getting famous and therefore a possible threat? Didn't Stalin kill some people without any "logical" reason? Isn't there an interesting comparison to Khodorkovsky?

InplainviewMonitor said...

The point is, assassination of Gagarin is a conspiracy theory, it is like with alien abductions or something else than hijacked planes involved in 9-11.

As for Khodorkovsky, his role in Russia aside, love him or hate him, as a celeb, he does not qualify even for Martha Stewart or Michael Jackson status, not to mention Gagarin or MLK!

The point is, Khodorkovsky was never really popular in his own country. In fact, he was not popular anywhere before Yukosgate! So, this is a pure scandal celeb like OJ or Ken Lay. There is absolutely nothing but scandal hype behind this guy.

La Russophobe said...

INPLAINVIEW: Again, much too strong. There is much more evidence of assasinations by the KGB than there is of UFO activity.

You're clearly wrong about Khodorkovsky. If the best that can be believed about him is true, he's one of the rare Russians in all of history who have tried to take power from the entrenched oligarchy and great personal risk. After, all, he IS in prison in Siberia now, and he knew that was possible when he took swings at Putin.

What's more, Putin was never really popular either. People laughed out loud when Yeltsin nominated him as his replacment, but he took power.

In fact, you can pretty much say that every person who's ever led Russia was "not really popular."

InplainviewMonitor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
InplainviewMonitor said...

If the best that can be believed about him is true, he's one of the rare Russians in all of history who have tried to take power from the entrenched oligarchy and great personal risk. After, all, he IS in prison in Siberia now, and he knew that was possible when he took swings at Putin.

<yawn> This is nothing like reasonable argumentation of any kind. All I am saying is that - like it or not - Khodorkovsky was never a celeb in Russia. He became one only in the West during Yukosgate - as simple as that. As for Putin - of course he is a Russian celeb - although this is completely different story.

La Russophobe said...

INPLAINVIEW:

What you say makes no sense at all.

I realize that Khodorkovsky was not a household name to the extent Gagarin was, but Gagarin wasn't a billionaire. The whole point of the theory I am discussing is that a person could get into a position where he could threaten the Kremlin with a powerbase detached from the Kremlin's own hierarchy and then be taken out. Gagarin got into that position with the fame attached to his space flight, and Khodorkovsky got into that position through his oil fortune. Maybe Gagarin had better name recognition, but a challenge to the Kremlin takes money too, and Gagarin didn't have that independently.

What's more, you grossly underestimate Khodorkovsky's "celebrity" in Western business circles, where he was often spoken of as a future ruler. The Kremlin knew that.

InplainviewMonitor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
InplainviewMonitor said...

The whole point of the theory I am discussing is that a person could get into a position where he could threaten the Kremlin with a powerbase detached from the Kremlin's own hierarchy and then be taken out. Gagarin got into that position with the fame attached to his space flight, and Khodorkovsky got into that position through his oil fortune. Maybe Gagarin had better name recognition, but a challenge to the Kremlin takes money too, and Gagarin didn't have that independently.

The point is, one way or another, Gagarin was and still is a major Russian celeb. What is also critical, he is a positive celeb like Beatles with no major problems.

As for Khodorkovsky, inside Russia, that's pure negative scandal celeb like OJ, but much less popular.

Note that I am not discussing what is behind their public images!

What's more, you grossly underestimate Khodorkovsky's "celebrity" in Western business circles, where he was often spoken of as a future ruler. The Kremlin knew that.

I don't deny Khodorovsky's fame in the Western business circles. WSJ and others did quite lot to promote him. Everything as with Enron!

La Russophobe said...

Well, if he was famous among the Western power elite and rich enough to finance his own campaign, then he was at least as much of a threat to the Kremlin as Gagarin's pure celebrity ever was, which means it's at least equally plausible that the Kremlin would attack either one for political motives, and no conspiracy theory is needed.

InplainviewMonitor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
InplainviewMonitor said...

Eckhmm... Look, comparing Gagarin with Khodorkovsky is like comparing Elvis or MLK with OJ - it just makes no sense whatsoever!

InplainviewMonitor said...

Go f* yourself with your Okudzhava

La Russophobe said...

It makes perfect sense if they were both persecuted by the Kremlin, and you've set forth no evidence to the contrary (except of course for your brilliant, scholarly, "Go f* yourself" of course; really a nice synopsis of your position I think)