Uladzimir Matskevich: The sooner the "Union State" is denounced, the better for Belarus

Aliaksei Yurych, EuroBelarus Information Service

Not only does the “Union State” undermine the establishment of civilized relations with Europe, but it hinders the possibility of normal relations between Belarus and Russia.

On April 3, Alexander Lukashenko made a working visit to the Russian Federation: a meeting of the Belarusan leader with Vladimir Putin was held in St. Petersburg.

The leaders of the states discussed “a wide range of issues concerned with development of bilateral Belarusan-Russian relations.”

What is the “Union State” like today, and what is the future of it?

Uladzimir Matskevich, philosopher and methodologist, answered the questions of the EuroBelarus Information Service:

— Since the “Union State” of Belarus and Russia was a stillborn baby from the very beginning, the stillborn formation can only exist in two variants: calm or dead. “Union State” is pulled out from time to time in an attempt to revive it. But it is hopeless.

— And in the light of recent events, we see no such attempts.

— This year — probably yes, due to the aggravation of the economic relations between Belarus and Russia, unsuccessful negotiations on oil and gas. But since the “Union State” is not “buried”, not denounced, a possibility that after a while it might be summoned once again cannot be ruled out.

— Against the conflict between the leaders of the two countries, we may observe very similar processes: mass protests in the regions of Belarus, which culminated in the brutal crackdown in Minsk on March 25-26, and a brutal dispersal of demonstrators in Moscow.

— I would not say that the processes in Russia and Belarus are identical, they are different. The major difference is that protests in Belarus are spontaneous, popular, they began in February and were not initiated by opposition, but appeared as a reaction to implementation of Decree No. 3.

Russian protests are initiated from above (through Alexei Navalny), the date could have been chosen for some reasons I am not aware of. Or Navalny was given a hint that Russian protests should “coincide” with the Belarusan: the foreign policy information wave raised by the Kremlin in connection with the growing social tension in Belarus was conducted so as to show that the Belarusan protests are pro-Russian. This step in the information war cannot but lead to certain reflections.

— What kind of reflections?

— If we bring together the protests in Belarus and Moscow, then, like it or not, a conclusion that there is a unified coordinating force emerges, thus the Belarusan opposition can be believed to be linked to the Kremlin-controlled Russian opposition. But it is a bad sign for our neighbors (Lithuania and Poland); moreover they can start to perceive the Belarusan opposition to be controlled by Moscow.

— So it cannot be claimed that both parts of the “Union State” are in a state of popular upheaval?

— Both Belarus and Russia are now in a difficult social and economic situation.

But if the Belarusan protests have short-term reasons (the implementation of Decree No. 3), Moscow has no situational reasons for protest. If you take look at the social composition of the protesters, workers of budgetary enterprises, people who have experienced a sharp decline in the standard of living over the last year participated in the Belarusan protests, while students and schoolchildren, young people who are most ready to respond to the radical appeals of opposition comprised the protesters in Moscow.

We can say that the Belarusan protests are natural, while Moscow's are artificial in this particular case.

— If the “Union State” brings no good, does it mean that it does not cause any harm as well?

— In spite of the fact that the “Union State” of Belarus and Russia is stillborn and neither state benefitted from it during the whole span of its existence, the Union does harm Belarus quite considerably. It can be illustrated by the following: it severely hinders establishing normal trade and political relations with Europe. Furthermore, the “Union State” has even become an obstacle in the normalization of relations between Belarus and Russia. Instead of establishing normal partnership and economic relations, the “Union State” constantly creates the illusion of a special attitude, which is inconceivable.

The sooner the “Union State” is denounced, the better for Belarus.