From the top of Mont Chauve (345 m), you can, in good weather, see most of Belarus, a gloomy plain of forests and lakes in the middle of which are planted a dozen towns which bring together most of the population. who should have everything to be happy. With the lowest infant mortality in Europe, champion of equality within the meaning of the UN (Gini index), an exceptional medical service (11 beds per thousand inhabitants compared to 6.5 in France), pipelines which transport the half of Russian gas for a comfortable royalty and, for its own use, a very cheap gas that powers a European-class petrochemical industry, it ranks 50e rank of the UN Human Development Index (HDI).
→ DOSSIER. Belarus
White Russia, translation from Belarus into Russian has a long history which, to our misfortune has sometimes collapsed ours since it is crossed by the Niemen, wide enough to contain the raft where Napoleon I and Alexander I signed the Treaty of Tilsitt, and the Berezina, which, with its twenty meters wide and two meters deep, wiped out what remained of the Grand Army. There were two great moments. First the election of the future Henri III of France to the crown which he wore for two before fleeing to take the fleurs-de-lis of his brother Charles IX by bringing back to France the fork, the hot water tap and the septic tank. And then the participation of the Normandy Niemen squadron in the battle of Minsk which was the cemetery of the last German armies, at the very moment of the Normandy landings.
→ EXPLANATION. Belarus: Alexander Lukashenko tries a new strategy
Homeland of the “proto-Slavs”, White Russia played a central role in the installation of these tribes in Europe. With the Poles and the Lithuanians, it created at the end of the XVI century the “Republic of the Two Nations”. This aristocratic federation played a leading role, with General Sobieski, in the defeat of the Turks under the walls of Vienna in 1683, the first stage of the backward flow of the Porte out of Europe. Its liberalism made it, for centuries, the refuge of the Jews expelled from Western Europe.
The famous “partitions of Poland” led to its annexation by Russia between 1772 and 1795. It disappeared from the radar until 1918, when, by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Lenin ceded White Russia to Germany. In reaction, the Belarusian People’s Republic was created, fomented by Marxist intellectuals, quickly invaded by Russia, which transformed it into the Soviet Socialist Republic, its status until 1991.
It will have a seat at the UN in tribute to the crushing of the Germans in 1944 – Bagratian offensive, battle of Minsk (800,000 Germans and 2,330,000 Soviets killed or missing). Throughout this period, she remained the good student of the USSR, until following Yeltsin who, under the nose of Mikhail Gorbachev, had the USSR abolished by its three founding members, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in 1991. She is independent again!
→ TESTIMONIAL. In Belarus, the revolution of building courtyards
This return to a closed world allowed him to escape the American shock therapy adopted by Yeltsin and even the privatization fashion which was all the rage in Russia and Ukraine. So few oligarchs, an economy 50% in the hands of the state and agreements with Russia allowing it to be included in the classification of rich nations of the UN with, in addition, an unemployment rate of 1.5% and non-existent external debt.
One of the constants since independence has been to ask for reintegration in Russia. She even kept her flag from the Soviet era! A moment favorably envisioned by Moscow, when Medvedev was head of state, this request ended up being declined by President Putin. It is nonetheless obvious to both parties that Belarus is an integral part of the “Russian world”. The Belarusians have overwhelmingly approved the annexation of Crimea!
The way in which the other nations of the USSR abolished the Communist Party did not appeal to the Belarusians, who nevertheless had full latitude to do so in 1992. They preferred to stay in a known environment. Conservatism? Without a doubt. Wait-and-see? Certainly: until 2010 my many friends in Minsk and Grodno expected to become citizens of the Russian Federation sooner or later.
The deception favored the survival of a communist regime, under the indifferent eye of Europe and the tacit approval of Russia. The European Union’s neighborhood with the Balts and Poland ended up giving ideas of democracy to a country that had not known a color revolution although there are as many smartphones as there are inhabitants. The rigged presidential election of August 9, 2020 gave the start of the movement. And all of Europe is embarrassed, east and west.
→ READ. Belarus, Turkey… Europe of sanctions passes a credibility test
The past militates for a rapprochement with one of its two big neighbors, Poland or Russia. The mood is frankly not for the resurrection of the “Republic of the Two Nations”. There remains the other term of the alternative: rapprochement with Russia within the framework of an enlargement of the Federation into Confederation. Viewed with suspicion in the West, it is nothing other than Realpolitik, because in a major international crisis, Belarus will never rise up against Russia.
But the future of the country must first be placed in the hands of its citizens. After such a long stay in power, it is time for President Lukashenko to step down. Then Belarusians will be able to take their destiny back in hand.