[Marxism] More on Belarus from Stephen Gowans

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 20 16:39:49 MST 2006

March 20, 2006

Lopsided Lukashenko win anticipated as legitimate election outcome

By Stephen Gowans


While the New York Times has treated the lopsided outcome of Belarus’ 
presidential election as confirmation of the allegations of the US-backed 
candidate Aleksandr Milinkevich that the vote was rigged, major media 
outlets have ignored their own previous reporting that predicted the 
incumbent, Aleksandr Lukashenko, was by far the most popular candidate and 
would likely score an overwhelming electoral victory.

A September 25, 2005 Los Angeles Times report said that, “even 
[Lukashenko’s] fiercest opponents don’t question the accuracy of 
independent polls that rate him the most popular politician in this country.”

An InterMedia poll reported on by the Los Angeles Times on March 19, and a 
Gallup/Baltic Surveys poll, cited by the Times of London on March 10, 
predicted an overwhelming Lukashenko win.

Major media outlets have since ignored their own reporting, to echo the 
charges of opposition forces.

These opposition forces have openly worked with Washington to oust 
Lukashenko, who runs an economically nationalist government that resists 
privatization, imposes conditions on foreign investment, and nurtures 
domestic industry behind tariff walls, while presiding over the region’s 
lowest unemployment rate, highest rate of economic growth, and flattest 
distribution of income.

The people are doing well, but the economy, from the point of view of 
Western investors and transnational corporations, is not.

That’s why the United States, Britain and Germany have worked with forces 
within Belarus opposed to the government’s economic policies, to bring down 
Lukashenko and replace him with a pro-Western regime that will sell off 
profitable state-owned enterprises and open the country to penetration by 
Western capital and exports, on terms favorable to Western corporations.

According to an April 22, 2005 New York Times report, Condoleezza Rice met 
Lukashenko’s opponents in Lithuania on April 21, where they discussed the 
use of “mass pressure for change.”

“Rice’s meeting,” the report went on, “appeared to be aimed at preparing 
opposition officials for the elections, which Rice said would be an 
‘excellent opportunity’ to challenge the government.”

This is consistent with the view that Lukashenko’s popularity was 
recognized as a barrier to change, and that the opposition, under 
Washington’s guidance, developed plans to use extra-electoral means to 
force the incumbent to step down.

Election coverage in the early part of the campaign pointed out that 
opposition forces were doing little to contest the election, and were 
preparing instead for an insurrection. (The election would act as the 
context, and a trumped up charge of electoral fraud, as the pretext.)

The New York Times reported on January 1 that “Mr. Lukashenko’s opponents 
seem not to be running an election campaign, as much as they are trying to 
organize an uprising,” and on February 26 reported that Milinkevich “is 
campaigning not for the presidency but for an uprising.”

While the outcome of the election appears to be suspiciously lopsided 
(Lukashenko took 83 percent of the vote to only six percent for 
Milinkevich) on February 26, the New York Times reported that “the results 
of a poll, paid for by the [International Republican Institute]
showed the 
ratings of Milinkevich and other opposition leaders in the single digits.”

Inasmuch as the New York Times reported that the poll was done for the 
Milinkevich campaign, which was being advised by Terry Nelson, the national 
political director for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, the lopsided 
Lukashenko electoral victory was surely anticipated, and should have been 
known by the New York Times to be a possible (indeed, the probable) 
legitimate outcome of the election.

Instead, the newspaper has followed the script adhered to by other major 
media outlets of echoing the allegations of the US-backed opposition 
forces, offering not a shred of evidence that the allegations are true.

In this way, the New York Times acts in its accustomed way as the 
propaganda arm of the US state, conveying, not so much a set of facts, as 
an understanding of the world, which in turn defines which facts are 
reported (when), and which facts are omitted (when.)

That understanding is consistent with the interests of the investors and 
transnational corporations on whose behalf the US state acts. Lukashenko 
stands in the way of the profit-making opportunities of US corporations, so 
Lukashenko must go. The US state, in the person of Condoleezza Rice, rushes 
to Lithuania to enlist agents to operate on its behalf within Belarus. The 
agents execute Washington’s plan. Trumped up charges are made. Pressure is 
put on Lukashenko to step down. The press plays its part.

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