Reflections on the future. Part 5
Dedicated to my old comrade from St. Petersburg
It's not difficult to predict the future, you better try to unriddle the present! (Hugo Steinhaus)
Gradually, but surely, every authoritarian regime gets a kind of mystical halo over itself. It is worth remembering fantastic image of the Emperor of the Central African Empire, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, or legends that surround the image of Muammar Gaddafi during his life and even after the death. Mystique around the Kim family has its roots in the ancient Korean myths. These phantasmagoric illusions should strengthen public confidence in the irremovability and the ekklesia of the local ruling elite, headed by another "father of the nation”.
Last week, the newly elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro announced the good news that the spirit of the quiet Hugo Chavez incarnated in some tropical bird. This bird said to the Venezuelan president that prematurely deceased in the other world Comandante fully supported the domestic and foreign policies of his successor, including, of course , draft regulations in order to solve the problem of shortage of toilet paper. Hugo Chavez supporters and even some members of the local Catholic church met this initiative with enthusiasm.
Of course, this is an example of political hoax, aimed to strengthen the legitimacy of the current government, which is supported even by flora and fauna.
Of course, it is stupid and difficult to argue with the presidents, but the author of this article has a professional interest and natural sympathy to the quiet president of Venezuela. I still believe that Hugo Chavez would not have tested the powerful intellect of Maduro, who was the bus driver in his past life, making him instantly learn bird language, and would send to young Venezuelan president some solid talking parrot with a red beret on the head.
However, we are all mortal ... and we will leave this world sooner or later. It is difficult to predict in which animal our spirit may incarnate. At first sight, I have no choice, as a clever crow is a symbol of the university where I work…
Does the Belarusian president has a choice?
Political force majeure
In the previous parts we analyzed almost all possible and impossible variants of political changes in Belarus in the next 10 years. It's safe to say that national uprising, rebellion or revolution will not happen in Belarus in the coming years. The opposition political forces, which in theory should be concerned about the change of regime, conduct an empty propaganda mainly among their supporters, avoid real organizational work and actively use anti-Russian rhetoric. There is only one real way to change the regime in Belarus - political force majeure.
Force majeure is the civil-legal term, which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as earthquake, fire, flood, prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. As a rule, force majeure is an integral part of any commercial agreement.
However, the political world, as a rule, uses only part of this concept - unforeseen, unexpected political events (coup d’Etat, the death of the head of state, revolution, rebellion, unexpected aggression, instant political crisis, the disappearance of political movement and party).
In any case, we speak about very rapid, almost instantaneous event, unexpected for most people and political forces. It dramatically changes the political situation in the country and on the world stage, destroys/changes all arrangements and agreements in a particular region or country.
Of course, the Republic of Belarus is not a kind of oasis, where time has stopped, and the authorities are eternal as the Egyptian pyramids. Sooner or later, someone will be happy and someone will be said when one finds out that A. Lukashenko is not the president anymore. The Belarusian president can leave our world for many reasons: serious illness, transport and other disaster, unexpected incident and even assassination attempt. The last variant is hardly probable, as the political class is cautious and the population is non temperamental. But we must remember that there are a huge number of people, who link their personal failures and losses to the name of the President of the Republic. In addition, it is possible that the immediate surrounding of A. Lukashenko may have its own «Brutus».
Naturally, we do not want something bad for the Belarusian president. Any human life is priceless. Any ... However, we don't know what could happen tomorrow and what sort of political force majeure may happen in the republic. We only know one thing: if force majeure, God forbid, happens, it will be a huge tragedy, which will affect the fate and history of the Republic of Belarus. However, the policy is cynical and ruthless, and human life, unfortunately, is not endless ...
Therefore, we discuss only possible scenario, which has many indirect factors, that could significantly change it.
So, we have very likely situation: at some point, the country is suddenly deprived of the head of state because of a number of circumstances. We deliberately did not discuss the circumstances of the incident, abstract from it. Of course, it is wrong, as these conditions may significantly affect the future course of events. Although, the author of this article believes that for a number of reasons this impact will be minimal ...
However, no doubt that this event will resemble the situation in Petrograd after the February 1917 revolution. The political life of the country will be immediately activated and aggravated. Political migrants will return to Belarus, and most odious, corrupted and steeped in crimes representatives of the former regime will try to leave the country.
Political movements and parties, which are in the suspended condition now, will quickly attract new members, their leadership will struggle for the influence, political forces will start mobilization, etc. However, all these processes will have an impact on the situation in the country later, in the best case in a few months. For the first time, these processes will be a background or scenery for the main political scene, where the immediate scramble for the power will begin. It will resemble the events of March-June 1953 in the highest echelons of the Soviet leadership.
But the incidents will occur. The first battle for power will happen in the streets and squares of the capital.
Of course, the news that Alexander Lukashenko is not in power anymore, will be a shock for the Minsk residents, who have never liked the stranger from the city of Shklov.
For some time the street will seize the initiative from all political forces and the race for the power will immediately begin. No doubt, the nationalist part of the opposition, finding that the main and the constant threat disappeared, will try to use the "window of opportunities" in order to take away the power from the nomenclature and form the interim leadership of the country. In fact, it would be an attempt of coup d’Etat. But the nationalists will only have two - three hours. If they do not use this chance, they will be pushed back from the power for a long time ... and they will have no opportunity to participate in the scenario of change of power before the elections.
The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus says that the Prime minister is a second person after the President. The Prime minister should temporarily take the post of the president and, later, hold the elections, providing political and socio-economic stability in the country. But it is under the Constitution ... It should be reminded that Mr Lukashenko came to power according to one Constitution, and for nearly twenty years he is ruling according to the other Constitution. In addition, it is not a secret that the Belarusian society has a tendency to the authoritarianism.
The electorate hopes to see another "strong hand", which will be able to "restore order", "punish thieves" and lead society to such a level of well-being, when the people will not to be ashamed in front of the neighbors. These hopes are based on the political and economic situation in the country, the level of maturity of the political class, habitual traditions of political and socio-economic dependency.
So, it is possible that a person, who will take the post of the Prime minister in this sad time, may try to take the banner of authoritarianism from the hands of Alexander Lukashenko. And, of course, there will be many reasons: «in this difficult time, we all must stick together... I can not disappoint the people ... I believe I can not evade responsibility for the fate of the country in this critical time, and etc.» - standard political demagoguery, which should hide the lech for power.
If the nationalists try to seize the power just after the disappearance of Alexander Lukashenko, it will be a solid support to the Prime minister. He will have absolute argument - save the Constitution and change it only by the will of the people, but not street actions.
However, no matter who will be the Prime minister, as he will have to face the presidential "family", which, of course, will try to inherit the power by the example of Aliyev clan, or get firm guarantees of preservation of political and economic privileges. It is worth recalling that in case of force majeure in the Lukashenko's house, his eldest son Viktor will become the head of this house. You should not hide that in fact, today, Viktor largely represents the "family", he takes care of its commercial interests, protects the power of his father. Viktor Lukashenko is well formed political figure, he knows the risks and the challenges, faced by the ruling group today. It would be a terrible mistake to underestimate him.
Viktor is the leader of a very ambitious group, which includes security officials and big businessmen. Opposition media call them the "young wolves". Almost all of these people have made a career for the last twenty years, and they should thank the President and his son for everything they have achieved. Today these people are loyal guard of the "family" and they will have no future if the family is removed from the power.
Moreover, we should remember that the family includes the clan of brothers and sisters, wives and numerous relatives on women's line. They have money and business. So, Viktor will have no choice. He will be responsible for the "family" and may save it only if he takes the power.
Here is the first conflict after a political force majeure – the conflict between acting President and Alexander Lukashenko's eldest son. After all, there is no legitimate way of power inheritance in Belarus. So, in these conditions, only unconstitutional coup and the removal or forcing the Prime minister will save the "family". At first glance, it's easy, as Viktor Lukashenko controls the security forces.
However, there can be problems as it is unclear who will be the Prime minister at the moment of political force majeure. M. Miasnikovich, who is holding this post now, is in focus of the expert attention for many years. It should be clear that M. Miasnikovich also has his own clan with obligations and ambitions. I would dare to make an assumption that the amazing nomenclature plasticity of the current Prime minister should not deceive us. If we talk about the money and the power – Miasnikovich will instantly show quite strong "teeth" and the snatch of a bulldog.
In addition, it is worth recalling that the acting President will have no problems with the legitimacy. Moscow, Brussels and Beijing will support him immediately. Viktor Lukashenko will have serious problems with the legitimacy if he decides to take the post of his father.
It should exist. Even just on the script. In theory it should be among the security forces, but now it is not visible and does not show itself. Of course, the security forces, as always, are grumbling on President Lukashenko and Viktor, but they are not able to make any Fronde. Not now, anyway ...
I express extreme caution opinion that the security forces, part of nomenclature and even oligarchs will not fully support Viktor Lukashenko's claims to power. Viktor Lukashenko's presidency would mean that nothing has changed in the country and the country would be in danger and face real blockade in all directions. In addition, as we noted earlier, the ruling class wants personnel stability, personal peace, at least some certainty, opportunity to legitimize the financial conditions and travel round the world. The ruling class wants to join the European higher society, etc. So, if the "third force" appears, it will not be a surprise.
So, we can say that with a high degree of probability, the notorious triangle will be formed in the first hours after a political force majeure in the higher echelons of the Belarusian authorities. A fierce battle for the power will take place in the framework of this triangle. But there is no sense to predict a winner, as we should take into account external forces, that should act as a referee in the ring. It depends on them, who will win. Of course, we are talking about Russia.
Until now, Russia gives legitimacy to the regimes in the post-Soviet space. It is worth mentioning the role of Putin's phone call to Rosa Otunbayeva in Bishkek in the first hours after the overthrow of the regime of Kurmanbek Bakiyev (April 2010). After the conversation with Moscow the issue of the legitimacy of the interim government of Kyrgyzstan has been decided, and the whole world, including Washington and Brussels, accepted it.
All three sides of the future power triangle in the Republic of Belarus will be extremely interested in the immediate support from Moscow.
However, if the Prime minister can count on this support by default, Viktor Lukashenko may have serious problems. Belarus is an independent state, not a subject of the Russian Federation. In the case of support of Viktor Lukashenko, Moscow will face a serious problem of international recognition of its protege in Minsk (in this case the eldest son of Alexander Lukashenko will get this status). It will be harder than to fix an independent state of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
In addition, it will be necessary to do something with a wave of indignation in Minsk. Most likely, this wave will consolidate and unite Lukashenko's former nomenclature, directors, security officials and oligarchs. They will be joined by instantly awakened national resistance and the opposition, which will begin the process of deciding who is the «biggest hero», who make a major contribution to the "victory" over dictatorship. The people will suddenly discover that the life without Alexander Lukashenko does not stop, you can eat, drink, sleep and even breathe. Minsk, as a capital and the real political and economic center of the country will not accept the second version of Lukashenko.
In addition, Moscow does not know Viktor Lukashenko. And M. Miasnikovich is well-known figure. No doubt, the acting President will readily confirm all integration agreements and contracts on the strategic cooperation between Russia and Belarus.
A chance for the House of Lukashenko
But Viktor Lukashenko has a chance. This chance is West. We are talking about almost programmed attempt of nationalists to take the power into their own hands just after a political force majeure. In this case, Viktor Lukashenko may be in demand and supported by Moscow as a radical solution of suddenly heightened Belarusian problem, which has become a bone of contention between the East and the West. It is worth recalling that Moscow and Brussels have no "hot line" on the Belarusian problem, even in the format of a permanent expert exchanges. Both sides have myths and suspicions. All this may be for Lukashenko’s clan good.
In any case, the "family" will lose on the domestic political scene at the second course of the force majeure passing move. It may win only if Moscow supports it. In turn, the acting President may come to the agreement with the "third force", which will be the force component of the Interim Administration. The victory itself will fall into their hands, like ripe apple ...
The election will come then, amendment of the Constitution, almost programmed attempts of «color revolutions» and so on, but this will be another history of Belarus. It is unlikely that any «magpie», who will be sitting in a bullet-proof vest on the roof of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Belarus and clacking: "In this difficult time ... in this difficult time ... in this difficult time ..." may interfere in this history….
A. Suzdaltsev, Moscow, 16.06.13