World News: Protests In Belarus Continue, Crack Downs on Protesters Condemned By EU

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The protest that has raged for months in Belarus highlights the bankruptcy of an obsolete political system but also all the diplomatic power and influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the last supporter of 'Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian leader.

The last survivor of the Soviet era, attached to the past of a political and ideological system dead and buried for more than thirty years, Alexander Lukashenko, President without interruption of Belarus since 1994, does not resolve to give up the power that the Belarusians to him dispute.

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With massive arrests and political violence, the power of an increasingly isolated president is trying to save a regime which suffers daily disapproval from the entire international community, in particular of the European Union.

However, Alexander Lukashenko can still count on the support of Vladimir Putin, President of Russia who has long seen Belarus as a powerful ally capable of stabilizing a region still agitated by the Ukrainian upheavals.

Geo-Strategy and Double-Dealing

Only, this support, until then unwavering, could turn into polite understanding and end in total dissociation as Vladimir Putin knows he needs the European Union and the international community to ensure the future of his country.

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The Russian president, a fine strategist and aware of international alliances, has long understood that the Belarusian regime, admittedly useful from a regional geo-strategic point of view, had little more reason to exist as the libertarian aspirations that have crossed the world for the past ten years was deep enough to overthrow the caciques of the old order.

Alexander Lukashenko, who is keen to suppress the protest within his country, is certainly aware of the dilemma that animates his historical Russian partner but has, to date, hardly any assets up his sleeve to ensure the support eternal Moscow.

However, angering the international community is certainly not in the intentions of Vladimir Putin in view of the double-game led by Moscow towards the Syrian crisis where the Kremlin has always shown itself to be generally conciliatory with Bashar El-Assad, much to the chagrin of Europeans.

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The condemnations that hit the Belarusian regime, certainly useful because they are quick to turn the eyes of the world towards this country of 9.5 million inhabitants, pro-European and eager to open up to the international market, are however not sufficient to change the position of Alexander Lukashenko.

Pressure and Buffer State

This one, like a dinosaur of the communist era, awaits the signal from Moscow to cede a power that escapes it every day a little more because only a clear-cut position of Vladimir Putin will decide him to give up power.

However, although he does not have any major assets to resist popular pressure, Alexander Lukashenko can still count on Belarus' geographical position to push Vladimir Putin not to let go of a loyal ally.

Bordering Lithuania and Poland, both members of the European Union, Ukraine still plagued by a latent civil war between pro-Russian and pro-European Union groups, Belarus occupies a position of buffer state between the aforementioned countries and Russia, which does not wish to end up on a border with the European Union and consequently with Western Europe.

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So what future is shaping up for Belarus? Either Vladimir Putin plays the diplomatic game of openness by abandoning Alexander Lukashenko, or he remains faithful to the history of the late Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact by keeping his distance from the Western world.

In both cases, it seems that it is Moscow which is in the position of arbiter, Alexander Lukashenko occupying that of pawn, and the Belarusian people, of victim.


Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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