Staunton, September 29 – Concerned that Moscow might engineer a regime change in Belarus as a follow on to its actions in Ukraine, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been purging pro-Russian officials from his regime – but in a very quiet way lest he provoke Moscow as a result, according to Nasha Niva.
The Belarusian daily reports that “the families of officials who are noted for their sympathies to the Kremlin and the chauvinist ideas of ‘the Russian world’ are simply being quietly dropped from the lists of leaders” in Minsk, sometimes with no announcement they are being dismissed.
The latest example of this, says Nasha Niva, is the removal of Lev Krishtapovich as deputy director of the Information-Analytic Center of the presidential administration. Without any announcement at all, his name simply has ceased to appear among its leaders in new publications.
At the age of 65, Krishtapovich might have retired, but that is not what has happened. Instead, he is now in charge of the scientific-research department of the Belarusian State University of Culture and the Arts, a distinctly less important and less influential post.
In recent years, he had been one of the most prominent exponents of what is sometimes referred to as “West Russism,” the notion that Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are a single ethnos rather than separate nations. Several of his books pushed that idea, including one with the provocative title Belarus and Russia: A Historiosophical and Civilizational Unity.
But he was even more famous or infamous for his dismissive comments about Belarusian history, his opposition to Mensk’s program to preserve architectural monuments in Belarus, and his having received, last year from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Order of Friendship.”
Indeed, it is even possible that that action by Putin triggered his removal, the Belarusian paper implied. If so, Kristapovich’s dismissal is even more significant as an indication of Lukashenka’s fears and his moves to defend himself and his country from Moscow.