It’s a familiar story: Western imperialist forces are orchestrating another coup in a sovereign state while the bourgeois media in Ireland bombard us with sympathetic coverage of anti-government protesters and the “democratic opposition,” whose ranks are brimming with the most vicious reactionaries.
Behind the scenes, the United States and the European capitalist powers are providing considerable resources to the fifth-columnists. The parallels with the coup of 2014 that has devastated Ukraine ever since are undeniable. Almost thirty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the NATO war machine plans to intervene and clear the way for foreign capital to wreak havoc in Belarus, as it has done everywhere else in eastern Europe since the days of the Warsaw Treaty.
Despite the economic collapse brought about by the counter-revolution of the 1990s, Belarus avoided the fate of many other former socialist states by retaining state-run industry and the social safety net. Instead of the country’s resources being sold to the highest bidder, President Lukashenko’s programme ensured that Belarus kept substantial control over its own affairs.
Contrast this with Boris Yeltsin’s presidency in Russia, where mass privatisation and a collapse in living standards marked the aftermath of the Soviet era. Russia has since drifted out of the American orbit, much to Washington’s chagrin. Installing a puppet regime in Belarus would complete the military occupation of Russia’s western border.
Of course the present government of Belarus is not without fault. It is clear that thousands of Belarusian workers have grievances, which have led them to take to the streets in protest. However, the government still commands the support of most of the people. More importantly, Belarusians appreciate that their country’s sovereignty is under threat.
Not surprisingly, the Western media refuse to report on large pro-government, pro-sovereignty protests, many of which are far greater than anything that has been whipped up by the reactionary opposition.
The Belarusian people have much to fear from the experiences of their neighbours and from the array of forces that are orchestrating trouble. Indeed few countries have beaten the war drums in recent weeks with more fervour than the Baltic states. Given that their foreign policy amounts to letting NATO use their territory as a military base from which to co-ordinate the Pentagon’s schemes, it is not surprising.
The fact that the opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has retreated to Lithuania since losing the presidential election in August is no coincidence. The Baltic states have all adopted the euro in the last ten years, but not before implementing EU Central Bank rules that led to wages being slashed and public services being cut. Not surprisingly, the dictatorship of capital in these countries has made use of fascism to carry out its bidding.
Anti-communism, anti-Semitism and the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborationists are central elements of the prevailing reactionary ideology, as in Ukraine. In contrast, the material conditions for a significant fascist movement have not yet developed in Belarus; but the sight of red-and-white flags dominating opposition rallies shows that anti-communism and historical revisionism motivate many among the “democratic opposition.” The red-and-white flag was used by an anti-Bolshevik government declared in 1918, which was ultimately powerless. In addition, the Belarusian Soviet Republic suffered the highest number of deaths as a proportion of population during the Great Patriotic War.
Delegitimising the Belarusian election and the status of Lukashenko as president of Belarus have been the central messages communicated by the bourgeois media over the last few weeks. As usual, workers in Ireland and elsewhere are being fed a line that is coming straight from the US State Department.
That Lukashenko has shortcomings is not remotely the point. Each time a coup is being planned by the imperialist powers their opponent is inevitably labelled a “dictator.” Just as in Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela, the question boils down to this: Are you objectively siding with the anti-imperialist forces—or with the imperialist ones? There is no “third way,” as many leftists try to argue, whereby one can condemn both sides equally and sit on the fence.
The response from communist and workers’ parties has been clear: Respect Belarusian sovereignty! Reject the EU-US-NATO intervention in Belarus!
- Roger Harris, “Belarus’s options in the midst of a color revolution,” Marxism-Leninism Today, 24 August 2020 (https://tinyurl.com/y3u323kj).
- “Latvia joins the euro,” Socialist Voice, January 2014.
- “Belarus’ white and red flag: A symbol of Nazi collaborationists and counterrevolution,” In Defense of Communism, 20 August 2020 (https://tinyurl.com/y2yrqqka).
- “Belarus: Statements-reactions by communist and workers’ parties,” In Defense of Communism (https://tinyurl.com/yybrrwom).