So be it: 19 December 2010. The Presidential election in Belarus won’t bring any surprises anyway.
The election will take place before Belarus and Russia agree on new gas prices, which could rise from the current $185 per thousand cubic metres to $250 and threaten Belarus’ social stability.
The authorities have said already that the vote will fully comply with national laws.
Minsk promises to invite the maximum amount of foreign observers. The OSCE/ODIHR mission will be more interested to see if it complies with international standards. In the past, they have always said Belarus’ elections fail to meet democratic norms. Interestingly, their CIS observer mission colleagues from former Soviet countries have always said the opposite.
The upcoming campaign will be different – this time Minsk cannot rely on silent approbation from Moscow. Russian diplomats in the OSCE and CIS missions might work together to make the two reports more similar. But would Moscow favour a more positive OSCE verdict or a more negative CIS one than usual?
The information war between Minsk and the Kremlin is plain to see. But not what lies behind it. Belarusian experts say Russia has no strategy for the Belarus election and will not try to topple Lukashenka. It’s unlikely that Russia would like to sponsor a revolution of any colour in Belarus. It might want to make the Belarusian leader as nervous as possible ahead of the hydrocarbon price talks, however.
This time Lukashenka won’t be able to beat Belarus most famous pro-EU opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich. That’s because Milinkevich announced that he won’t run.
Milinkevich, Europe’s darling, the united opposition candidate, got 20 percent of the vote in 2006, as far as we know. He says he is not taking part in the new elections because they are not elections. He won’t take part in a play, he says, where the director, the playwright and the actor are all one and the same. In his name you see Europe giving up.
The opposition, recently again labelled the “enemies of the people” by Lukashenka, has no common candidate in 2010. There could be up to a dozen pro-democratic romantics keen to be President and several of them running against Lukashenka, and each other, in the final sprint.
There is nothing to indicate that the incumbent will not be re-elected.
The most interesting part will come after elections anyway.
Choose thy love. And love thy choice.