The Union of Russia and Belarus: the mental integration against the “soft Belarusization”

In-depth integration within the Union state of Belarus and Russia, which strongly suggests Moscow since the end of last year, may finally blur the boundaries of the national in the Belarusian society. This opinion in an interview with RFI was expressed by the political scientist Andrey Yeliseyev, the Director of studies at the EAST-Center, the author of works on anti-Belarus propaganda and disinformation emanating from Russian sources and Pro-Russian in Belarus.

According to Andrei Yeliseyev, after the resumption and intensification of negotiations on the creation of the Union state activities of dozens of Pro-Russian sites and communities in social networks began to see much less of a threat than concentrated and consistent pressure from the Kremlin.

Andrey Yeliseyev: “the Main danger comes from the negotiations that take place between Belarus and Russia. Now on the agenda including the strengthening of cooperation in the so-called humanitarian sphere. And here comes that Lukashenko is not willing to give up some significant chunks of sovereignty and further integration of political, but he’s willing to give this humanitarian sphere and asks in exchange for her and harmonization of legislation to resolve itself positively for oil and gas, and credit issues. Therefore, it is important that on the background of the development of specific communities in social networks, network sites Pro-Kremlin orientation is not lost, not left in the shadow of the real threat that the Kremlin will destroy the Belarusian as such, at least, will reduce it to a minimum. Yet, judging by the talks and the situation in General, it looks like the Belarusian Lukashenko is ready to give up. It (the Belarusian national component of RFI) is no value for Lukashenko.

Here’s the latest — the Forum of regions, which was held in Saint-Petersburg. He was again held under the name of cultural and humanitarian cooperation. That is, the economy was not the only key issue. In the continuation of the previous meetings of the working group on so-called integration one of the key concerns remains the so-called humanitarian cooperation. This means that today the Kremlin is concerned that in Poland, Belarusian students studying more than in Russia. Already there is talk about creating certain associations of the Belarusian-Russian universities to more Belarusians had the opportunity to study in Russia. It is obvious that for a long time we are talking — not the first year — more information influence of Russia in Belarus”.

Meanwhile, according to a survey of the Belarusian analytical workshop (BAW, Warsaw), more than 43% of Belarusians believe that now is the deepening of Belarus ‘ integration with Russia is not necessary. The second most popular answer to the question “do we Need deeper integration with Russia?” “Yes,” answered 36.4% of respondents. Another 20.2% were undecided, and 0.4% refused to answer the question.

After Crimea and Donbass, it seemed that the Belarusian authorities became more tolerant to treat the supporters of the national revival, before they were automatically enlisted into the ranks of the opposition. Here and authorized the celebration of the centenary of the Belarusian people’s Republic, and Lukashenka’s words about the sanctity and the inviolability of Belarusian statehood, about the impossibility of the country to become part of a certain country, etc. “But to take it as a signal about the beginning of the soft Belarusization and the term has become very popular since 2016 is too naive, this is wishful thinking, although this is understandable, given the pressure on all the national in the last 20 years,” said Andrei Yeliseyev.

Andrey Yeliseyev: “you Know, no soft Belarusization not begun. It is a myth, this is a very vague concept that was never clearly defined, she looked very good in the expert community, some round tables, some scientific articles, but this is a phenomenon that was not noticed and not noticed by society. Indeed, there are certain initiatives that are trying to popularize the Belarusian language, — “Moananui” for example. But these private initiatives, the state is irrelevant, all of them came through the efforts of civil society activists. That is, the Belarusian society, its individual segments, I attended the national state, began to spend their time and money in the Belarusian case. It wasn’t a manifestation of Belarusian state policy. Of the public manifestations here it is possible to call only some — few — performances of Belarusian on some Belarusian officials and a couple of holidays shirts from the Belarusian Republican youth Union, Pro-state youth organization, but this is ridiculous, this is absolutely a rare phenomenon.

If we are talking seriously about some kind of government support — implicit or explicit — of the so-called soft Belarusization, the first thing that must come in two areas — education and media. We see that the number of students who study in Belarusian, from year to year is declining — this trend is evident absolutely (in the two — million Minsk- seven Belarusian-language schools and schools in the country in Belarusian learns a little more than 10% of Belarusian students — RFI). In media also there is absolutely no expansion of the Belarusian language on the main state TV channels. TV channel “Culture” with a very small rating, I do not take into account. But the fact that the national news during Prime time on all major TV channels are impossible to watch in Belarusian is the best example of a state of the Belarusian language”.

Interestingly, despite the explicit and implicit criticisms of Moscow to delaying the so-called deep integration, Alexander Lukashenko’s rating in Russia is quite high, and 44% of Russians polled by the Russian Fund “Public opinion”, think that Belarus is seeking closer ties with Russia, the intention to move closer to the West see 22% of respondents.

Lukashenka on July 26 at a meeting with Minister of foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics said that his rating in Russia has reached 60%, adding that “Belarus will never, for any money will not break off relations with brotherly Russia, despite the fact that our country is building good relations with Western Europe, the European Union, the United States.” The Belarusian head slightly overestimated his popularity in the allied country, but data all the same the Russian survey show that Lukashenko Russians continue to love — 51% of respondents stated that, in General, to treat him well, 37% are indifferent and 5% are negative, only 3% of respondents do not know who this man is.

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