Lukashenka Now a ‘Lesser Evil’ for Belarusians than Putin, Popular Front Party Leader Says

March 10, 2015

Staunton, March 9 – It is a measure of just what a threat Vladimir Putin represents to neighboring countries that Aleksey Yanukevich, the leader of the Belarusian Popular Front Party, says that Alyaksandr Lukashenka, usually described as “the last dictator in Europe,” is now “a lesser evil” than the Kremlin imperialism the Kremlin leader is promoting.

“There are many problems in Belarus, and the authoritarian Lukashenka’s authoritarian regime is one of them, but the main danger today is Kremlin imperialism” and that fact means that the Belarusian Popular Front, despite its opposition to the Minsk leader, won’t field a candidate against him in the upcoming elections, Yanukevich says.

This is a significant development in Belarus even though Lukashenka almost certainly would guarantee his re-election, but even more than that, it is an indication of the way Putin’s aggressive authoritarianism in the short term at least may be shoring up the less aggressive but equally authoritarian regimes around the Russian Federation.

Yanukevich tells that he would prefer the Belarusian opposition to unite behind a single candidate but differences of opinion within it have made that impossible. At the same time, he says, the country needs an opposition and one that seeks to win, although “today everyone understands that we are in very complicated situations.”

In the near term, the Popular Front leader says, “the prospects [for this] are not encouraging.” They can be changed only by slow slogging work. But he adds that in the longer term, “the opposition has good prospects” because “changes are inevitable. In such a situation, the opposition will become systemic, represented in various branches of power and in the still longer term come to power.”

But at present, Yanukevich says, anything that destabilizes the situation, including a popular rising like the Maidan or anything similar “would not be good for the Belarusian people, the Belarusian opposition, the powers that be or for Lukashenka” personally. The only winner in that event would be the Kremlin and “those forces including within [Belarus] who do not consider [it] an independent country.”

The question of whether Lukashenka or Russia is “the greater evil” is a question “not for the opposition but for Belarus” as a country. It is obvious that Russia today is close to an absolute evil” and what it is doing “through its fifth column” threatens Belarus and its survival far more than even Lukashenka does.

“The main danger today is Kremlin imperialism,” Yanukevich says.