Belarus capital sees violence escalation amid protest crackdown
All-Belarusian People’s Assembly initiated by Lukashenko – a vestige of the Soviet past with &# 171; five-year plans, political scientists say
The date of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly has been set in Belarus. It will take place on February 11-12, 2021.
As BelTA informs on December 28, at a meeting to prepare this forum, Alexander Lukashenko noted that «today, as during the period of the first All-Belarusian People’s Assembly in 1996, it is a far from easy time for the country, perhaps even more ambiguous».
In February 2021, at this meeting, whose role in the country‘s legal system is uncertain, Alexander Lukashenko intends to let «results of the five-year plan», and «be frank about what they have achieved, what did not work out and why».
Earlier, on December 7, in his speech, Alexander Lukashenko noted that during the upcoming [February 11-12, 2021 – TB] of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly will be established «absolutely transparent, beautiful, democratic scheme» development of Belarus and economy.
At the same time, Alexander Lukashenko did not rule out the possibility «redistribution of powers», which can be implemented as part of the constitutional reform.
According to regional media, in October, in the midst of mass opposition protests, Lukashenka announced that at the meeting, citizens would be reported on the progress of work on amendments to the republic’s Constitution. In addition, Lukashenko proposed to make the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly a constitutional body that would control the main directions of the country’s development. Independent experts note that, according to the current Constitution, amendments and changes can only be made by a nationwide referendum..
It should be reminded that popular protests against Alyaksandr Lukashenka do not stop in Belarus. Belarusians demand the departure of Lukashenka, opportunities for holding presidential re-elections. Protests have continued since August 9, – from the day of voting in the election of the head of state.
After the end of the presidential campaign, the United States and the European Union did not recognize the legitimacy of the elections in Belarus and imposed sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko and his entourage.
On the website of the US Treasury Department on December 23, the message says that the sanctions list has been replenished with one individual and four structures. – for their role in falsifying voting results and violence against peaceful protestors. The persons indicated in the list are responsible for undermining democratic processes or institutions in Belarus, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement..
An integral part of the law on financing the US federal government, signed on Sunday evening, December 27 by President Trump, is «Act on Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty of Belarus», giving the President of the United States additional powers to impose sanctions in connection with the protests in that country.
Updated «Democracy Act in Belarus» recognizes the Coordination Council as a legitimate institution for participation in the dialogue on the peaceful transfer of power and does not recognize Alexander Lukashenko «elected leader of Belarus»; Calls for new presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in a free and fair manner in accordance with OSCE standards; calls for the release of all political prisoners unconditionally; supports the striving of Belarusians for freedom of religion. The act also states that the United States does not recognize the inclusion of Belarus in “union state” with Russia.
«A new wave of terror will begin in Belarus in the near future»
The All-Belarusian Assembly is not a constitutional body, since its role and tasks are not spelled out in the Basic Law of the Republic of Belarus. About this in an interview with a reporter «Voices of America» recalled the head of the Center for Political Analysis and Forecasts, Doctor of Political Science Pavel Usov.
«This meeting was first convened in 1996 during a confrontation between Lukashenka and the Belarusian Supreme Council, in order for the people to approve the president‘s actions to amend the Constitution and to actually seize power after the 1996 referendum. And after these events, the All-Belarusian Assembly became a populist manipulative body that supported and approved Lukashenka’s course. Usually, it gathered before the elections, but in 2015 and now it is held after the election campaign.», – explained the political scientist.
As for the meeting scheduled for February 2021, according to Usov, Lukashenko aims to confirm and strengthen his legitimacy with his help. As well as a demonstration of people’s support for their policies.
«But with the help of this meeting, he cannot change the Constitution, as well as approve some new constitutional provisions. Although it is clear that Lukashenka has been ignoring the Constitution itself for a long time, and in fact it does not limit him in any way. However, in fact, it will need to be observed.», – notes Pavel Usov.
The political scientist adds that in order to give the All-Belarusian Assembly an additional status, Lukashenka needs to enlist the support of the Constitutional Court of Belarus and all branches of government..
«There is a version that, having given constitutional status to the All-Belarusian Assembly, Lukashenka will leave the presidency and become the chairman of the assembly, that is – something like the general secretary of the Central Committee of the ruling party. But in my opinion it is – a very complicated procedure, and in the context of the ongoing political crisis, such manipulations are unlikely to have a positive and stabilizing effect on the system.
Therefore, it seems to me, all attention will be focused on two aspects: before the beginning of the meeting, Lukashenka will demonstrate that he controls the situation in the country. Therefore, in the near future, a new wave of terror will begin in Belarus, because the holding of the All-Belarusian Assembly in the midst of a protest upsurge will mean an even greater undermining of its legitimacy.», – believes Pavel Usov.
Decorative Forum «the best representatives of the people»
Head of analytical projects of an information company «BelaPAN» Alexander Klaskovsky notes that Alexander Lukashenko is an ardent adherent of Soviet-style rituals. In this regard, many local observers compare the All-Belarusian Assemblies with the congresses of the CPSU.. «Indeed: loyal characters are selected who applaud all statements «the leader» and vote for the proposals that he puts forward», – noted Alexander Klaskovsky in an interview with a reporter «Voices of America».
The expert also recalled that at the peak of protest activity in August – September of this year, when the chair under Lukashenka really swayed, he, albeit vaguely, promised to carry out some political changes in the country.
«He promised a new Constitution, even talked about a referendum and new elections. In addition, there is information that in September, during a meeting with Putin in Sochi, the Belarusian «leader» gave some promises related to the transit of power. And after that, Moscow, through the lips of its speakers, such as Sergei Lavrov, reminded that «our Belarusian partner» started a constitutional reform, and we are watching with interest. But now Lukashenka, apparently, decided that he had already mastered the situation, that he mostly coped with the protests. – although this is so or not, a separate question!» – believes Alexander Klaskovsky.
This means that, according to Lukashenka, there is nothing terrible for him in this situation, which means – there is nothing to start a transit of power. I think he decided to throw these away «nonsense» out of my head, and at least sit through the current five-year cadence», – the interlocutor considers «Voices of America».
And he emphasizes that this version is supported by the fact that, announcing the convening of the next All-Belarusian Assembly, Lukashenka did not say a word about the new Constitution of Belarus, or about a referendum, or about new elections.. «It seems that he decided to quietly sabotage these things and hold another decorative forum, which, of course, will not solve any problems, will not untie the knot of this crisis, but rather will only stir up passions. I think that the people can come out to protests again, this time about a fake meeting, and «the best representatives of the people» will have to fence off the riot police and internal troops from the most angry people by cordons», – the head of analytical projects of the information company predicts «BelaPAN».
«Superstructure», parliament, constitution
Political scientist Denis Melyantsov notes that in the convocation of the Belarusian People’s Assembly, the idea of transforming this event into a constitutional body can be seen – «superstructure» over parliament.
«Many experts agree that such a variant of the transfer, transit of power is possible, when Lukashenka becomes the head of such a body and formally relinquishes his presidential powers, and power passes to this body. An option that is somewhat similar to the Kazakhstani method of transferring power, but it is not completely obvious that this body will be constitutional and Lukashenka will head it», – says Denis Melyantsov to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».
In his opinion, the convocation of the Belarusian People’s Assembly – planned, and, therefore, there is reason to believe that its preparation is not under the influence of recent events and popular protests in Belarus.
«In addition, protests in the country are becoming less and less massive, and they do not pose a threat to the Belarusian authorities, and for now there is an option to leave everything as it is, but with a twisting "nuts"», – believes Denis Melyantsov.
According to him, quite «possibly», Belarus will come to a full-fledged democracy, but this will take time, given «completely different requests» citizens.
«Today Belarus – it is a consolidated authoritarian state with a rigid vertical of power. The state is functioning well, social guarantees are being fulfilled – in these senses and in fact, Lukashenka still has legitimacy. Let’s see different polls – forty percent still believe that the elections in the country are held in a democratic way», – believes Denis Melyantsov.