The 66th birthday of the President of Belarus, Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko, coincided with the worst crisis in the modern history of the country. Many commentators enthusiastically compared what is happening with the Ukraine crisis and predicted the same outcome for the events in Belarus.
However, these comparisons are invalid.
There were six key reasons behind the Ukraine crisis.
First, Ukraine has historically developed a competitive shadow policy, which is based on media and para-force operations. In Ukraine, the practice of taking to the streets and seizing power through mass demonstrations and provocations, both in regional centres and in the capital, is an established one. A whole class of participants in such “popular” power-grab operations has emerged, who, even between political crises, are a dangerous asset.
Second, the security forces in Ukraine have been weakened; their limited size and lack of qualifications did not allow for them to effectively resist the practice of usurping power through street demonstrations. It is possible that this is precisely why the Ministry of Internal Affairs was weakened, so as not to hinder the regular swing of the political pendulum with the help of the street.
Third, during the 2014 crisis, the country experienced a deep split among its elites, as a result of which President Viktor Yanukovych was betrayed by his closest circle of supporters. This turned out to be one of the most significant factors in the development of the crisis.
Fourth, in Ukraine, a conflict of identity has historically existed between Russian-speaking and nationalist-minded citizens, supported by the authorities. The latter developed their radical paramilitary wing over the years. Ukrainian nationalists got combat experience in various armed conflicts in Europe and the Caucasus. At some moments, these units were provided with advisory support by external forces interested in destabilising the situation.
Fifth, probably the key parameter of the 2014 crisis was the weakness and inadequacy of President Yanukovych’s actions in the context of the unfolding crisis. His inconsistency and fear of responsibility for difficult decisions cost him power and plunged the country into a catastrophe of civil confrontation.
Sixth, last in importance, but still influential, was the clear objective of the United States, as well as the countries of Eastern and Western Europe to break the status quo by “forcing out” President Yanukovych, and then legitimising the coup d’état through the international recognition of the new authorities.