The last time Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the president of Belarus, saw the end of his term approaching, he fired the parliament, rewrote the constitution and stayed in office. Lukashenka’s term expires again in November. This time around, however, he seems sufficiently confident of his control of the situation to allow elections to take place, probably in early September.
Many of Lukashenka’s potential opponents are not available to run. They are in exile, in hiding, in jail, disappeared or dead. But despite constant intimidation and seemingly hopeless odds, a democratic opposition persists. Five possible candidates–the “five traitors,” Lukashenka calls them–have agreed that they will pick one of their number to stand against the president in the fall.
Whoever that may be, and whatever he may stand for, Lukashenka intends to run against NATO. “I cannot and will not pursue any other policy,” he said. NATO plans to turn Belarus into “a second Yugoslavia,” forcing political and economic changes down Belarusan throats. “Huge money has been put into this [plan]. Savage and unprecedented pressure has been exerted from abroad.” Bohdan Milosevic is Lukashenka’s role model.
Lukashenka attacked his opponents as “spiritual successors to Nazi toadies.” That of course is a flip-flop on the Nazis. In 1997, just before signing the first of several treaties of union with Russia, Lukashenka speechified: “I don’t want to say that everything connected with Adolf Hitler was bad…. He annihilated so many people, but he united the nation. United it through strict authority…. The people of Belarus are saying: ‘Mr. President, give us a dictatorship, give us Stalin’s times.'”