[Marxism] Stephen Gowans on Belarus elections
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Mar 18 15:35:13 MST 2006
March 18, 2006
Election Intrigue in Belarus
By Stephen Gowans
The efforts of Western powers to overthrow Belarus Lukashenko government
will culminate in rallies planned for Sunday night in Minsk to protest the
outcome of the presidential election Lukashenko is sure to win, not because
the election will be rigged, but because Lukashenko is by far the most
Polls carried out as recently as last month, paid for by the International
Republican Institute, the US taxpayer funded foreign policy arm of the
Republican Party, show that support for the US-backed candidate, Aleksandr
Milinkevich is in the single digits, (1) while over half of voters back
A January Gallup/Baltic Surveys poll found that 55 percent of voters
planned to vote for Lukashenko, while only 17 percent planned to mark their
ballot for the Wests favored candidate.
So popular is Lukashenko, that the Los Angeles Times acknowledged that even
his fiercest opponents dont question the accuracy of independent polls
that rate him the most popular politician in this country. (2)
That is, until now.
Milinkevich, whose campaign is being run by Terry Nelson, the national
political director of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign (3) says the election
result has already been decided. (4)
This is part of a strategy to engineer a color revolution in Belarus,
following the same script used in Ukraine and Georgia, to oust pro-Russian
governments there. According to the strategy, election results will be
declared invalid, followed by members of a Western-funded youth group
spilling into the streets in a planned spontaneous uprising, demanding
the governments resignation.
Last April 21st, Condoleezza Rice met with anti-Lukashenko groups in
Lithuania, promising them money and demanding they coalesce around a single
candidate (Milinkevich). Rices meeting, noted the Washington Post,
appeared to be aimed at preparing opposition officials for the elections,
which Rice said would be an excellent opportunity to challenge the
Up until the last few days, anyone following media accounts of the campaign
would have learned that Mr. Lukashenkos opponents seem not to be running
an election campaign, as much as they are trying to organize an uprising
(6) and that Milinkevich is campaigning not for the presidency but for an
However, now that the election is upon us, the tone of the coverage has
changed. Gone are stories about polling results that show Lukashenko to be
miles ahead of Milinkevich. Now, warnings are issued. The election will be
manipulated, as expected. (8)
Nonsense. With his polling numbers in the single digits, the unpopular
Milinkevich has no hope of winning the presidency, except by following the
plans laid out for him last April by Rice.
Central to these plans is the youth group Khopits, modeled after similar
youth groups put together by Western powers to bring down governments in
Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. Khopits gets its money from the US National
Endowment for Democracy, its British equivalent, the Westminster foundation
for Democracy, and the Foreign Ministry of Germany, with cash smuggled
into Belarus in small amounts. (9)
Khopits goal: To fill the streets after the elections results are
announced, denouncing them as fixed, and demanding that Lukashenko step down.
Why does the West want Lukashenko to go? For the same reason Belarus
voters want him to stay. The economy.
Roughly 80 percent of Belarus industry remains in state hands, the
government pursues a policy of pervasive state involvement in the
economy, resists privatization, hinders foreign investment, and follows
active policies of important suppression and export promotion. (10)
The result is that under Lukashenkos tutelage, Belarus has become a
miniature version of the Soviet Union itself (11) hardly the kind of
place to set hearts aflutter in the boardrooms of New York, London and
Yet, however much Lukashenkos government makes investors and
transnationals see red, both literally and figuratively, Lukashenko has
presided over a continual increase in real wages for several years,
culminating in a 24 percent rise over the past 12 months. (12)
He has also cut (Belaruss value added tax), brought down inflation,
halved the number of people in poverty in the past seven years, and
created the fairest distribution of income of any country in the region. (13)
Is this the kind of guy youd expect voters to be champing at the bit to dump?
1. New York Times, February 26, 2006.
2. Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2006.
3. New York Times, February 26, 2006.
4. Times Online, March 17, 2006.
5. Washington Post, April 22, 2005.
6. New York Times, January 1, 2006.
7. New York Times, February 26, 2006.
8. Washington Post, March 18, 2006.
9. New York Times, February 26, 2006.
10. The Heritage Foundation 2006 Index of Economic Freedom.
11. New York Times, January 1, 2006.
12. Times Online, March 10, 2006.
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