What does Lukashenko want to achieve by arrest?
Two things at least, says Hummels. First of all, intimidation. He wants to show opponents and opponents: You are not safe anywhere. Additionally, Lukashenko worked hard to create an information vacuum in Belarus. Only on information channels operating from outside, such as Nexta, has no effect. That was definitely what he cared about in the arrest of Protasevic. “
The third reason is more speculative: Lukashenko probably wanted to show his teeth. “With the intention of knowing how far he can go, how far he can challenge the West.”
Is this work unexpected?
According to reporter Iris de Graf, nobody really expected it, but it wasn’t surprising either. “Lukashenko has been working hard for months on opposition and critical journalists. This has increased last week. An important news channel in Belarus has been blackouted, an independent TV studio has been closed and journalists are being searched.”
“Lukashenko seems to be very concerned about the fact that everyone still knows what is happening in Belarus and that the opposition is still very active on the news channels. To start new demonstrations. Remarkably, we have seen a similar harsh approach from criticism. Media in Russia in recent weeks.
What is the impact of Russia?
Putin has been pursuing closer integration between Belarus and Russia for nearly two decades, and he appears to have ramped up efforts in recent years. Lukashenko has long opposed measures that could jeopardize Belarusian sovereignty, but the suppression of demonstrations last fall and the anger of the West at them brought Belarus closer to Russia. Since last year, the two countries have also concluded new agreements on long-term cooperation.
“Since the demonstrations last year, Lukashenko has been completely restricted from Moscow and it is clear that he cannot do much without the support of Russia. This diversion of the plane cannot happen without the Kremlin’s approval or at least his knowledge,” says correspondent Iris de Graf.
Moreover, the Belarusian economy is largely dependent on Russia. By continuing to support Lukashenko economically and politically, the Kremlin actually approves of what is happening in the country. “Obviously, Lukashenko felt confident enough to do so, and that will be in large part because he feels Moscow’s support.”
According to De Graff, it is still not entirely clear what is going on behind the scenes and how far Moscow’s hand is. But Moscow clearly supports Belarus. Russia described the anger and condemnations from the European Union as “shocking” and said that news of the arrest was being misused in the West for its political and anti-Russian agenda.