Staunton, January 21 – The Moscow media has been filled in recent weeks with a flood of publications portraying Belarus as an “enemy” of Russia, calling into question Belarusian sovereignty, and even threatening annexations of part or all of Belarus by Russia on the Crimean model, according to Dmitry Oreshkin.
The Moscow commentator told RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service that this flood constitutes a full-blown “information and ideological attack” not only against traditional targets like the supposedly artificiality of the Belarusian language and Belarusian nation but also against Belarusians supposedly plotting against Moscow (svaboda.org/content/bielarus-vorah-i-ahresar-novy-trend-u-rasiei-palitoliah-areskin/27499773.html and belaruspartisan.org/politic/331077/).
Three recent examples of this campaign include:
· Moscow’s “Pravda” newspaper carried a letter from Mensk saying that “Belarusian ‘democratcs … have crossed all borders not only of good sense but of morality. In their articles, statements, books and ‘scientific’ works, they seek to show that the Belarusians and Russians have no common historical roots and that the Russian people and Russia always were the main enemies of the Belarusians against whom they almost constantly have fought” (kprf.ru/pravda/issues/2016/3/article-53774/).
· Another Moscow outlet wrote that “the ‘Youth Front’ is preparing for a military confrontation with Russia. ‘At the end of last year, [it] was founded and created a military-patriotic union ‘Bayar’ which now not only is actively recruiting supporters but also conducting patriotic training in the open air.” The “only difference” between it and Ukraine’s “’Right Sector,’” the news agency continues, is that “the militants of the Belarusian ‘Bayar’ immediately designated their goal as being ‘opposition to the pro-Kremlin fifth column in Belarus and against Russian aggression which this fifth column is preparing” (news-front.info/2016/01/20/vtoroj-belorusskij-front-pavel-yurincev/).
· And a Russian economist, Sergey Aleksashenko, told Ekho Moskvy that if Mensk continues its campaign to become part of Europe, it will be united to Russia “in a way analogous to the Crimean scenario” (echo.msk.ru/programs/year2016/1692882-echo/).
Oreshkin points out that “20 years ago, Russian patriots with all their efforts supported Alyaksandr Lukashenka because they viewed him as the opposition to liberalization. He was such, but under the influence of objective factors, [he] while maintaining his authoritarian regime ever more is trying to preserve the sovereignty of Belarus and defend himself against encroachments by his eastern neighbor” by turning to Europe.
“If Moscow were the capital of a contemporary state with a high technological and cultural level, then it wouldn’t need to be involved in the artificial promotion of Russian,” Oreshkin says. Instead, Russian would spread as English does. But when anyone fails to use it, many in Moscow go into hysterics.
The Russians think that “they have the right to think in Soviet categories. They are spitting against the wind and therefore they are always losing. And if Vladimir Putin says that he has received ‘a knife in the back,” that means, when translated from Soviet language, that he has incorrectly calculated the risks and has carried out an incorrect strategic.
“For some reason or other,” others are always plunging a knife in Russia’s back in this view, Oreshkin says. “Ukraine and Turkey and Syria and now Belarus.”
At the same time, the Moscow analyst says, he does not think that Belarus faces any real military threat from Russia. “Russia does not have the material, financial, demographic or diplomatic resources in order to annex Belarus. Therefore ever more often will efforts to mobilize the Putin patriotic electorate in the ideological sphere.”
And Russians will conclude that “the Belarusians have betrayed us and put a knife in our backs.” But perhaps that will lead some to ask themselves whether it was an intelligent move to turn our back to them?