Monday, May 01, 2006

The last dictator in Europe

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, most Americans have given little thought to what happened with the corpse. After all, we won the cold war, right? Case closed.

Those of us who are fascinated by dictators know that the Soviet implosion created a new golden age of autocrats in the new nations that sprang from the corpse of the USSR. Case in point: the Republic of Belarus and Europe's last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko (seen above with Fidel Castro at right).

Economically, Lukashenko clings tightly to Soviet style state run economy that has turned Belarus into an economic fiefdom of Russia. While politically, Lukashenko has molded Belarus in the imge of the Soviet Union. With dazzling speed, Lukashenko became the paradigm for the post-Soviet Soviet dictator, including squeezing out non-state owned media, using the state security services to crush political dissent - both public and private, and transforming the Belorussian legislature into a rubber stamp parliament. Perestroika and glasnost are still dirty words in Minsk.

Lukashenko's primary tool in his regressive rule has been the complete indifference of the rest of the world to the state of affairs in Belarus. Oh sure, the US State Department and European Union have called him out as a dictator, and human rights organizations wag their fingers, but nobody's actually going to force Lukashenko to step down. It's safe to say that Lukashenko isn't losing any sleep over the targeted sanctions intended to pressure him into making political reforms.

As a popular issue, Belarus is a non-entity. When was the last time you heard a Hollywood movie star or Irish rock band frontman express concern for freedom in Belarus? Quick answer: never. When outsiders think of Belarus at all, they think of it as a borscht eating backwater, or they have no idea it's an independent country. I suppose we should also forget about waiting for a star studded charity Concert for Belarus for that matter, too.

Most outside observers are not quite sure where Lukashenko is heading the ship of state. He has not, as of yet, developed a personality cult or declared himself "president for life". Some have even suggested that Lukashenko is seeking reunification with Mother Russia, a suggestion that likely has Russian president Vladimir Putin creaming his jeans with glee.

Presuming that Lukashenko avoids the pitfalls that tend to befall Soviet-style tyrants (military coups, cirrhosis, etc.), it's a good bet that he will be Europe's last dictator for a long time to come.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stupid article, no information, only propaganda.

Anonymous said...

This is a very accurate and balanced description of the situation.

Many former communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe were luckily able to come closer to freedom, democracy, prosperity and happiness following the fall of the Berlin war. The most fantastic part of this success story was that many countries were able to make this transition from dictatorship to freedom ALMOST WITHOUT VIOLENCE.

Let us hope that this can also happen in Belarussia. Let us hope that the population will eventually get so much information and knowledge that they understand that this is not the type of leader that they should have, and let us hope that they are able to get rid of him in a peaceful way.

Anonymous said...

This is a very accurate and balanced description of the situation.

Many former communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe were luckily able to come closer to freedom, democracy, prosperity and happiness following the fall of the Berlin war. The most fantastic part of this success story was that many countries were able to make this transition from dictatorship to freedom ALMOST WITHOUT VIOLENCE.

Let us hope that this can also happen in Belarussia. Let us hope that the population will eventually get so much information and knowledge that they understand that this is not the type of leader that they should have, and let us hope that they are able to get rid of him in a peaceful way.

Anonymous said...

Not really without violence. In my country (Romania), we had a fierce revolution in december 1989, and Mr. General Secretary of the Romanian Socialist Republic, or shorter, our "beloved" dictator Ceausescu used the army against the resource the communists praise the most: people. Thousands of people died, including innocent civilians and children, and this is one of the many cases which prove that the states in the Warsaw pact were not communist at all, and were just some evil hungry-for-power dictatorships which were hiding their true identity over the shiny curtain of equality and communism. True communism means equality between people (both politically and economically), no discriminations at all, no imperialism, endless pacifism, and practically, a biblical utopia which will never work for the human race. Still, I support the European socialist democracies (like France or Spain), since a more "power of the people"-oriented state would be a little bit better than an economy-oriented capitalist one.

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