Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not Western Politics But Russian Economics May Force Out Lukashenka

The trouble with the Belarusian economy is this; It's managed almost entirely by the state. The way Lukashenka is able to pay pensions on time, boost police wages and so forth, is due to one main revenue spinner. Belarusian gas pipes. The President is able to charge Russia for the pleasure of using these to export to Europe, whilst gaining knock down prices for the Kremlin's resources.

It's no secret that Putin detests Lukashenka. Perhaps this is a way for Moscow to hit him hard. For those with too little time to read, Gazprom have announced that Belarus will face the same Euro-standard prices for Gas as everybody else from next year. The aim? To force Lukashenka into privatising his pipes, selling them onto the Kremlin.

Whether or not Lukashenka accepts this, or just puts up with high gas prices, he is in a lose-lose situation. The Belarusian economy is incredibly fragile, and would not be able to withstand the market force prices at work in the rest of Europe. This could then very well cause huge headaches for Lukashenka, unable to pay his pensioners, unable to pay his police, discontent could grow.

But why is Russia doing this?

What most people fail to see is that Moscow isn't interested in propping up dictators, it's interested in propping up itself. If it buys the only bargaining chip Belarus has in its quest for support from Russia - everything else is irrelevant. No Democratic government would likely dare to reverse a Privatisation deal with such a large power. A small European state such as Belarus has little of value to offer on the world stage for the Kremlin, Lukashenka is therefore the ultimate tool. Why did Russia not speak out after the recent election? Because the gas deal is not sealed. Putin is yet to get his hands on Belarusian gas pipes - if he had criticized Lukashenka, and the opposition had come to power, the sale of the transit route would never occur.

Was Milinkevich correct when he said the regime would not last a full five years? It's certainly possible.


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