Hockey championship in Minsk: Moscow to provoke Lukashenka?

Olga Zakharova, a Russian human rights defender and head of Freedom Files, has disclosed her thoughts about Russia’s probable provocations during the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk.

‘A rehearsal of overthrow of Lukashenka’s power might take place in the course of the championship. If Putin decides to get rid of him, he will be fulfilling this plan during the [presidential] elections. But he may take some steps earlier to size up the response of siloviki and citizens,’ she said in the discussion held in the Belarusian House in Warsaw.

Andrey Sannikau, a former political prisoner and ex-presidential candidate, does not rule out provocative acts on the part of Moscow either. ‘They are likely to touch those people who will be displaying the independence of our country. The possibility of provocations against foreigners is also left open; [provocators] will try to take advantage of the situation,’ he said.

Sannikau suggested that Russia’s aggression would not stop in Ukraine. He believes that Aliaksandr Lukashenka ‘has everything prepared to yield Belarus to Putin. ‘For many years he has been doing everything he can to make Belarus dependent from Russia, in particular from Russia’s energy resources. The country’s economy is in critical condition,’ he stressed.

According to Mr Sannikau, there is a slight chance of any violent overthrow of Lukashenka’s regime. ‘Putin does not need this. Lukashenka will keep protecting his totalitarian power, but the independence will be yielded to Russia,’ he said.

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