So, the first night after Belarus polling stations closed saw massive rallies accompanied by patriotic chants and slogans and flashbang blasts. Belarus made a very difficult choice between sticking with the their president, who had been in power for the past 26 years already or relying on a young, "promising" housewife who has no experience in politics whatsoever and also has a very peculiar baggage of hybrid contacts and actions...
Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of the Belarus capital Minsk yesterday. Protests were also reported across country, although they were not significant in numbers so it was no surprise that all media coverage focused on Minsk. A number of journalists and talking heads feeding off of hype began to thoughtlessly refer to the unfolding events as another "Maidan", although Minsk developments have nothing in common with Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity. And here's why…
When the Revolution of Dignity began in Ukraine and people flocked to the Maidan, these were by no means aggressive and buff young men representing the interests of a certain political leader. They were programmers, architects, writers, waiters, physicians, and teachers. They were all united in believing that under Yanukovych, the Russian puppet president, the country had been moving in a completely wrong direction.
In Belarus, we're seeing a dramatically different situation. There, people take to the streets standing up against their long-time authoritarian president, at the same time supporting candidates who are in fact Russian puppets.
It is not for me to judge who should become president in Belarus. However, I'm fully certain, which kind of Belarus Ukraine doesn't need. It's Belarus absorbed by Russia. Yesterday, as never before, we could see how much attention Russian propaganda pundits paid to protests in Belarus – and not in favor of Lukashenko, which is highly unusual... After all, when opposition protests get suppressed in Russia, it's a right thing deserving encouragement, Russian media always say. So was there some other kind of protest in Belarus then?
The Ukrainian and Western media lagged well behind the Russian propaganda machine, which massively covered the Belarus unrest, imposing own narratives. Russia's Telegram channels, which previously covered the Khabarovsk rallies (and, as I have already noted on multiple occasions, the Khabarovsk protest is a GRU plot) penned dozens, hundreds of messages throughout the night.
In turn, a number of opposition figures, for example, the wannabe candidate Tsepkalo's wife, suddenly took off to cast her vote in Moscow, while Russia's odious LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky hinted that Lukashenko might as well end up like Ukraine's ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych.
Well, that's sad. It's sad that Belarusians, striving for democracy and freedom, are getting into skillfully planted hybrid traps. Some voters are actually ready to support people who: receive campaign funding from Russia's Gazprom; hire PR managers including those who had once promoted Ksenia Sobchak's sham political project that served in the sole interest of candidate Vladimir Putin; enjoy warm bath coverage by media resources of Alisher Usmanov; employ on their team actual GRU operatives; still fail to recognize the fact that Russia has occupied Crimea, and that Russia is not an ally to Belarus; and flee to Moscow, rather than Brussels, if they feel at least slightly threatened...
There are a lot of markers compromising Belarusian opposition forces whom citizens so desperately seek to believe, but they certainly mustn't.
And therefore, I do care about the developments in Belarus, even more than many Belarusians. While for someone, this is about personal enmity toward Lukashenko, for me this is about security of Ukraine's northern border for the next few years. And please, don't draw any parallel lines between this GRU cheap show and Ukraine's Maidan.
One thing pleases the eye though: three dozen strong, hardened fighters, actually trained to kill rather than star on TikTok punching someone in the face, never made it to yesterday's "protest". Now, for a moment, just think about how developments would have unfolded had those Wegner guys been in the crowd.
Unfortunately, I'm no optimist in this case so the further spinning of the chaos flywheel in Belarus I see much more likely than even the slightest idea that the Kremlin will release the situation. They won't. In the last decade of Putin's rule and especially today, he needs new wins, and therefore, the Belarus post-election chapter has not yet been closed.