Not only Lukashenka: Kremlin in search of supporters in Belarus

The ‘Russian World’ is not just little green men, but the men wearing expensive suits as well. The Belarusian city of Hrodna has recently become a venue for a meeting of the Soyuz (Union) public initiative. It was established on the tip from the Russian nationalist politician Sergei Baburin and with funding from Moscow. What is this organization and what is its purpose?

To make September 17, the day of a Soviet attack on Poland and the Red Army’s entering Western Belarus. a national holiday – such a proposal was made by the leaders. The main objective of the Soyuz is the union of Belarus and Russia.

“The West keeps making a Herculean effort to split the Eastern Slavs, inciting them against each other […]. We call on all patriots, people of good will to become a united front against the destructive plans of the US and its European allies,” Sergei Baburin said.

The organization has held its meetings twice over the two last months. The constituent assembly took place in July. It was attended by Orthodox activists, members of the movement Young Russia and the Liberal and Democratic Party of Belarus, the Republican Party of Labour and Justice and the Leftist Party ‘Fair World’.

It is interesting that not a single Belarusian official was present at the event.

“Our officials hang on Lukashenka’s lips. If Lukashenka orders not to meet with Baburin, they will not do that,” Mikalai Pyatrushenka, a member of the Soyuz initiative, said.

According to Belarusian experts, pro-Russian organizations have stepped up their activities in the regional centres – Hrodna, Vitsebsk, Homiel. Apparently, the Kremlin hopes for support in regions which are much poorer than the capital.

“They will come and try to ‘win over’ bigger cities and towns,” political scientist Volha Kharlamava believes.

However, non-governmental organizations has been not yet well aware of a looming threat to the Belarusian statehood, independent experts stress. Television remains the major pusher of Russian nationalism ideas. Russia always offers help while democratic movements bring backwardness and chaos, state-run news channels state. However, polls show that it is mainly the seniors who trust Russian TV.

After Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine, the Belarusian authorities did spot a threat in the Russian nationalism and its adherentst. However, the response to the ‘Russian world’ is poor, the experts say. An attentive observer could note only the trial of the Belarusian-born contributors to the Russian agency Regnum and the disappearance of two Russian talk shows – their hosts criticized the authorities of our country.

“These persons, the architects of the ‘Russian Spring’ come to Belarus, there is no obstacle to them. On the contrary, we are witnessing the continuation of the policy of Russification, especially in education, as well as the position on the memorial in Kurapaty,” Dzyanis Ivashyn, a representative of the OSINT project, stressed.

In Belarus, Lukashenka has had a monopoly on the friendship with Russia for many years. But the recent media attacks and trade disputes are indicative of the Kremlin’s preferences. Russia seems to have started to look for new allies in Belarus who will be able to put pressure on Lukashenka or even use the Donbas scenario.

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