Belarus will be saved by the “Narodnaya Veche” and import substitution
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko addressed his annual message to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly. The hall was attended by 2.5 thousand people, including members of the government, heads of government agencies, journalists and a significant number of representatives of the power bloc. “MK” figured out what signal the Belarusian president gave to the West and its own citizens.
The main part of Lukashenka's speech lasted three hours, after which he answered journalists' questions for about an hour. During this time, the Belarusian president managed to identify the main topics of concern to citizens and the international community: sanctions, constitutional reform, deep integration with Russia, hostile relations with the West and internal opposition, which is supposedly paid for by this West.
From the podium, Lukashenka generously distributed benefits to doctors and teachers. He scolded officials who are only able to make important economic decisions with his help, promised the people not to follow the lead of entrepreneurs and continue to interfere in their business. On the other hand, he tried to justify his nickname “Father” by forgiving both the “fugitive” oppositionists, and the governments of Europe and the United States, if they repent and stop pursuing an aggressive policy towards independent Belarus.
By the end of the third hour, the audience was noticeably tired, and some even allowed themselves to yawn. At some point, Lukashenka was not satisfied with the weak applause of the audience after the speech that individual entrepreneurs, of course, will not be destroyed, but approaches to their work need to be improved. After the remark of the “chief”, the audience quickly corrected themselves and the hall burst into a storm of applause.
Experts told MK what exactly Lukashenko wanted to say and to whom.
Pavel Usov, Belarusian political scientist, publicist: “It was an extremely anti-Western performance. In fact, he accused Poland of all conceivable and unthinkable troubles and sins, ranging from the desire to capture the whole of Belarus and ending with interference in events in Kazakhstan. There was also a direct insult to Poland, that they almost shoot migrants and bury them in mass graves on the border with Belarus.
At the global level, there were accusations against the West, which, following the Russian politicians, he began to call “collective”. The accusations concerned the escalation of the situation and the desire to unleash a war for the redistribution of not so much energy carriers or sources of energy production, but for food and food markets. In principle, there was a heap of various accusations characteristic of Lukashenka, the creation of such an informational ideological chaos, mixing everything into a heap: from geopolitics to some local problems, like the restoration of villages.
A clear and clear message was connected with the fact that there will be no liberalization, weakening within the Belarusian political space. He equated all activities in Belarus directed against the Lukashenka regime to terrorist, which is not true. In turn, this suggests that the space for repression in the country will only expand.
This speech was held before the referendum. Despite all his refusals to Lukashenka that he does not need the Constitution, his desire and desire for the referendum to be held with pomp could be traced. He perceives it as an immediate electoral victory and restoration of legitimacy.
First of all, the message was directed at his electorate and the undecided part of the population. It was a demonstration that he was in control and had already pulled back from the blow dealt to him in the 2020-2021 period. Lukashenka feels completely in shape and is ready to act more dynamically. At the same time, it was obvious that there is a part of society on which he relies, and another part that is destructive. For society, this was a call for internal mobilization and increased awareness in the political life of the new state.”
Artem Agafonov, Belarusian political scientist:“Lukashenko started with difficult topics: war, hybrid war, sanctions, refugees, and so on. Emotionally, the beginning of the performance was very difficult. Conclusions were drawn from the situation in 2020, when envoys from the United States and Western countries frequented here, and Belarus appeared to be ready for transit to the West. Now Lukashenka recalls this moment as an evil plan of Western countries in relation to Belarus. Great emphasis in the speech was made on Russia, on the need for an alliance with it, and so on.
Much was also said about the Constitutional reform, and in very rosy tones. The All-Belarusian People's Assembly was extolled as a “veche”, which repeatedly saved the republic. Here I would like to note that such a comparison is lame, since the “veche” is an institution of direct democracy, and many citizens do not even have the right to even participate in the election of delegates to the Supreme National Assembly.
The impression was that Lukashenka intended to rule, at least , until 2025, and since the opposition is now disorganized, demoralized and has no leverage inside Belarus, then most likely this will happen.