Opinion: Morales’ fall as lesson for Putin and Lukashenka

A police officer waves a national flag on top of a police station during a protest against Bolivia's President Evo Morales in La Paz, Bolivia, November 9, 2019. The placard reads 'Police is with the people.', Image: 481973370, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: , Model Release: no, Credit line: KAI PFAFFENBACH / Reuters / Forum

Shortly before his resignation, Bolivian President Evo Morales made public the greeting message he got from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the wake of the recent election ‘victory’.

It should be noted that, in accordance with the Constitution, Morales had no righ to run for the presidential post; however, is participation was authorized by the tamed Constitutional Court. Moreover, numerous cases of vote rigging were reported during the elections, which resulted in the outbreak of mass protests soon after publishing the results.

Vladimir Putin could have held off on congratulations; many other world leaders took a break to see the resolving of the Bolivian crisis. But waiting is against the Kremlin’s principles.

Putin and weakening dictators

Putin’s congratulation is not even a compliment, but an encouragement, a call to decisively act against the ‘troublemakers’.

In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, another notorious winner of the presidential election, received greetings from Vladimir Putin twice during the first wave of the Maidan protests, which has already become part of the Ukrainian political folklore.

It is not a coincidence that Putin often hurries into congratulating; it is not ruled out that he identify himself with each dictator who is losing power.

Evo Morales came into office in 2006; his term of rule is six years shorter than Putin’s. And, like many populist politicians, he enjoyed great popularity with the majority of compatriots, which allowed him to remain in power for three consecutive terms contrary to the country’s law. In 2014, the court called back his first term of the presidency, and Morales ran for a third term as a second. When the issue of his fourth term popped up, new manipulations and intrigues started.

Loyalty of bayonets

And what does this Bolivian practice differ from Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s ‘eternity’ or twists and turns of Vladimir Putin who is serving his fourth term due to to the castling with Dmitry Medvedev?

At a casual glance, the factor of geography is the only difference. But in practice, it turns out that the necessary condition for the existence of such a regime is the so called loyalty of bayonets. Present-day authoritarian rulers bank on their military, but at the very first signs of a lack of support or even neutrality of the armed forces and police, they flee from their beloved people.

Bolivian top election official dresses up as man in attempt to escape

That is why Yanukovych ended up in Russia’s Rostov region in 2014, and Morales jumped on the first availaible plane to leave Bolivia. In turn, Nicolas Maduro continues to run Venezuela into the ground as he is a protege of the military clique which is still supporting him.

What power would the Putin regime have if the alliance of the FSB and the oligarchic mafia were not behind it?

Therefore, Putin’s pat on Morales’ back was nothing but the demonstrations of solidarity of those who can only rely on strong-arming, not on bona fide competition. What really counts is the power of bayonets, the power of propaganda, the power of privileges given to an armed man.

In view of the Bolivian ex-leader escape, Moscow and Minsk may come to a simple conclusion that a police state needs to be strengthened, as popular passion sooner or later passes while cartridges and batons remain.

Vitaly Portnikov/MS for Belsat.eu

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