Belarus: the last domino?

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, who leads a Moscow-aligned Soviet-nostalgist authoritarian regime, has got to be concerned about the recent unrest in Uzbekistan–especially coming on the heels of regime change in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan over the past year-and-a-half. However oppressive the situation in post-Soviet despotisms, it is clear Washington is seeking to exploit the situation to expand U.S. influence in the post-Soviet sphere, just as in the Arab world. (Of course this, in turn, allows the despots to potray all opposition as “American agents.”)

On May 19, Bush announced his plan for a $100 million new “conflict response fund” and $24 million for a new Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization in the State Department to coordinate U.S. government efforts to support emerging democracies, with the new Active Response Corps of foreign and civil service officers as a crucial tool. “This new corps will be on call–ready to get programs running on the ground in days and weeks instead of months and years,” Bush said at a dinner hosted by the International Republican Institute, a federally-funded group that (purportedly) promotes democracy worldwide. “If a crisis emerges and assistance is needed, the United States of America will be ready.” Bush cited a series of what he referred to as revolutions during the past 18 months: in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq and Lebanon. “We are seeing the rise of a new generation whose hearts burn for freedom–and they will have it,” Bush said. (AP, May 19)

The Belarussian Foreign Ministry wasted no time in protesting the measure. Spokesman Ruslan Yesin said: “It is obvious that the U.S. is continuing its line of actions that go beyond the boundaries of international law. Its overt preparations for interference in foreign states’ international affairs are also evident. Such initiatives should receive an uncompromising assessment from the international community and should be fended off resolutely.” (Interfax, May 19)

Late last month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Lithuania for a NATO foreign ministers meeting, met with a delegation of opposition activists from Belarus, who then announced plans for massive street protests. “You are in our thoughts,” Rice told the seven activists. “We admire your courage and we admire your dedication. While it may seem difficult and long, and at times far way, there will be a road to democracy in Belarus.” She added: “It is the time for a change in Belarus.” (Zaman, AFP, April 21)

At the moment, a diplomatic war is braking out between Belarus and NATO member Poland. Belarus has expelled a senior Polish diplomat, accusing him of meddling in the country’s internal affairs. Poland responded by expelling a deputy of the Belarusian ambassador. The Polish foreign ministry announced a list of Belarusian citizens denied entry into Poland in return for the persecution of the Union of Poles in Belarus. The Minsk regime declared recent election of the union’s officials null and void and ordered the reinstatement of the old leadership loyal to Lukashenko. The Union represents the 400,000 strong Polish minority and is the biggest civic organization in Belarus. (Polskie Radio, May 19)

Whatever imperialist intrigues may be underway, dissidents have plenty reason to be afraid (and amenable to accepting Washington’s aid) in Belarus. The most recent Amnesty International report on Belarus notes arbitrary detainment, imprisonment and “disappearances” of opposition figures, trade unions and journalists; the closure of opposition newspapers by government decree; and the shutting down of investigations into government abuses.

  1. The US has been meddling in Belarus for quite a while
    The US has been trying to get rid of Lukashenko for a long time now. As I recall Belarus threw the US ambassador out for his work towards regime change back in 2001. I can try to find the article(s) if you’re interested. Whatever its problems now under a US-backed freemarket regime Belarus will be worse off.

    1. I knew that would get your attention
      I do hope that last line is not your way of telling the Belarussian dissidents to shut up and accept thier lot under Lukashenko.

      If you have any information on a principled left opposition in Belarus that opposes both the regime and Washington’s free-market prescriptions, we’d love to see it.

      1. reply on Belarus and more
        Since you asked I am stating that the US Government’s crusade for “democracy” in Belarus cannot lead to anything good. I do not know of a “principled left opposition in Belarus that opposes both the regime and Washington free-market prescriptions” and I presume you don’t either or you wouldn’t be asking. I am not saying that genuine dissidents should shut up but rarely if ever are the US favored “dissidents” that get the money the genuine ones. Certainly a lot of the shrieking about Belarus is propaganda as you would admit. Below you can see that the US was pushing this regime change garbage in Belarus since 1999 at least. Also useful in that it reveals the US role in the staged “people’s revolution” in Serbia.,4273,4256816,00.html

        The “dictator” stuff is nonsense in Serbia and I believe the same in Belarus along with the cries of “totalitarianism”. Dictatorships do not allow for hostile foreign countries & NGOs to give vast sums of money to various “opposition” groups and most if not all democratic countries have laws against it as well. Interesting they got another US Central America hand to mess around in Belarus. William Walker, former US ambasador to El Salvador and Contra backer was head of the OSCE’s KVM mission in Kosovo and “discovered” the so-called Racak massacre. Also thought you might be interested in this piece on Uzbekistan,,1487023,00.html
        I agree with Laughland that the US is playing both sides. Your blog on the issue was pretty fair I thought. You do a lot of good work but your take on the former Yugoslavia remains largely nonsensical. The ICTY itself presents figures which seriously question the genocide charges it throws out
        According to these numbers (from a source hardly sympathetic to the Serbs) nearly half of all killed are soldiers. The US NATO General Charles Boyd (who helped broker the Croat-Muslim Federation) also dismissed the charges of genocide widely promoted in the media back in 1995.
        Even more ridiculous is the claim that Milosevic “controlled the Bosnian Serbs” and was “behind the genocide” or an “ultranationalist” and a “neofascist”. If one examines the record of his speeches and actions it becomes clear this is not the case. It is clear from the record including the testimony of negotiators that Milosevic supported just about every peace plan that came out. You can take a look at his speeches here

        and you wil see that they do not support racial hatred, fascism, an “ideology of genocide” or any such thing if read in context. This is an opening with much much more to be said.

        1. “Much more to be said”? Then get your own damn blog…
          Obviously there was a large “US role” in the Serbian revolution of 2000, but it is idiotic to deny that there was genuine populist, grassroots content to it, which is what the word “staged” implies. The US encouraged and exploited the Serbian unrest. It did not create it or control it.

          I didn’t use the word “dictator,” but if you are going to cultivate illusions about authoritarian strongmen (like that phrase better?), why don’t you make it Fidel Castro, who at least has some redeeming qualities? Lukashenko and Milosevic? Yuck!

          If we are going to split hairs, “totalitarian” is an overstatement to describe the regimes of Lukashenko or Milosevic before him (just like “staged” is an overstatement to describe the revolution that ousted Milosevic). Calling Milosevic a “neo-fascist,” on the other hand, strikes me as quite accurate. He is the same sort of animal as Pat Buchanan and Jean Marie LePen. The only difference is that he acheived state power.

          I didn’t say Milosevic “controlled” the Bosnian Serbs. He left himself enough wiggle room for deniability, just like Sharon did with his Phalangist clients in Lebanon, and just like Uribe does with the paramilitaries in Colombia today. Yet supposed “leftists” fall for this propaganda charade in the case of Slobo, oblivious to how they are undermining their own moral credibility.

          I would love to know why the Racak massacre is “so-called,” or how William Walker’s complicity in massacres in El Salvador 20 years earlier exculpates the Serbs of massacres in Kosova.

          As I’ve pointed out before, what happened in Bosnia and Kosova may not have been quite genocide. (Certainly what happened in Guatemala fifteen years earlier, which nobody even remembers today, has a far better claim.) Massacres, forced expulsions, mass rape–that’s quite bad enough, thank you. Did it amount to “genocide”? I’ll leave that to the legal scholars. I find this quibbbling about the numbers obscene–e.g. your pals on Gray Falcon acting as if 102,000 dead in Bosnia as opposed to 260,000 is some kind of exoneration.

          One of your Slobo-sucker pals posted that same link to Gen. Boyd’s Foreign Affairs piece here recently. His main point is to challenge the one-sided demonization of the Serbs–something I do not engage in. Franjo Tudjman was just as bad as Milosevic, and the Serbs showed genuine heroism in opposing and finally overthrowing Milosevic.

          The link to Slobo’s speeches doesn’t work, thank goodness. Who needs to read that crap? Bush talks about “freedom” all the time too.

          1. Slobo’s ideology
            Milosevic can’t be compared to Buchanan and Le Pen. Those two are genuinely committed ideological ethno-nationalists. Milosevic was a power-hungry cynic who exploited Serbian nationalism. He allied himself with genuine lifelong nationalists like Sesejl and Arkan, but I don’t believe he has any real ideological committment of his own.

          2. William Walker and Racak
            here’s a good piece on William Walker (former US
            ambasador to El Salvador and Contra backer was head of
            the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification mission in Kosovo) and the so-called Racak massacre.
            Given this, does it really surprise you that the OSCE
            mission was infiltrated by the CIA which was working
            with the KLA? See this Times of London story
            Of course the Racak massacre was a hoax
            As for the rest of your reply you seriously need to chill out and reassess your take. No one is saying anything good about 102,000 people killed in bosnia. Just that the ICTY numbers show a bloody and vicious civil war with tens of thousands of deaths and atrocities on all sides not a genocide. Isn’t the truth nasty enough without exaggeration and propaganda? You continue to see Milosevic as the standard of evil e.g. “Tudjman was just as bad as Milosevic” (and what about Izetbegovic?). Yet the ICTY’s case against him has totally fallen apart and the trial is in virtual media blackout. Check out the comments of Canada’s former ambassador to Yugoslavia
            All this is just the tip of the iceberg but your responses indicate a lack of willingness to examine the evidence seriously. You see through some of the NATO lies but you’ve swallowed many others and continue to repeat them like a broken record.

            1. Two can play that game.
              You’ve swallowed Serb nationalist lies and repeat them like a broken record. I am treating Milosevic as the “standard of evil” because you are apologizing for him. I could just as well have said Milosevic was just as bad as Tudjman. Would that have made you happier? Izetbegovic was no angel, but totally outclassed in the evil department by the Serb and Croat competition. Sorry.

              I love the way the account from Le Monde you cite to deny that Racak was a “massacre” actually argues that the dead must’ve been KLA fighters because all the civilian inhabitants had been forced to flee by Serb aggression:

              The object of the violent police attack on Friday was a stronghold of UCK Albanian independence fighters. Virtually all the inhabitants had fled Racak during the frightful Serb offensive of the summer of 1998. With few exceptions, they had not come back. “Smoke came from only two chimneys”, noted one of the two AP TV reporters.

              What a vindication!

              Anyway, if you want to be regaled by endless accounts of lots of other massacres by Serb forces, just go to (surprise!) the Albanian nationalist websites, like Kosova Crisis Center. Hey I know, we can play hyper-link war for the rest of our lives! What fun!

              But then of course, any media account which disputes your version of reality is ipso facto written by the CIA. Yet, mysteriously, you are eager to turn to The Man for a veneer of legitimacy. I wonder how many nights Ambassador Bissett spent drinking slivovitz with Slobo back in the day? You can always trot out some establishment figure with a soft spot for a former murderous client who has fallen on hard times.

              Can we quit now, Dimitri?