The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, confirmed this Monday to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he will seek to change the country’s Constitution. “Lukashenko has confirmed his intention to make changes to the Constitution,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said after a face-to-face meeting between the two presidents that lasted more than four hours in Sochi, a southern Russian seaside resort. .
The initiative is the only proposal made by the considered “last dictator of Europe” to try to overcome the political crisis, that has him cornered by massive protests and strikes after he proclaimed himself victorious in elections considered fraudulent by the opposition and a large part of the international community.
Putin expressed support for Lukashenko’s initiative, saying that he considered it “logical, timely and coneniente”. She also announced that her government has agreed with Minsk to grant a loan worth USD 1.5 billion.
The meeting confirms the abrupt political turn that Lukashenko has taken regarding his relationship with Moscow. In recent years he had accused the country of “destabilizing” attempts, but since the protests began he has sought the support of his neighbor.
Analysts believe that Russia will try to make the most of its support for the Belarusian president, who has no room for maneuver, and “It is completely dependent on Russia” to survive politically. Putin has warned that Russia could dispatch police to Belarus if riots turn violent, raising fears that it wishes to use the protests as a pretext to annex the country as it did in Crimea – Ukraine’s territory – in 2014.
Specifically, the “renewed” version of the Magna Carta could decentralize power in the country. Lukashenko himself, who has ruled the executive for 26 years uninterruptedly, has conceded that the existing system is “somewhat authoritarian.”.
Although he defended the presidential model, the president was willing to cede authority to other powers of the state. “We must ensure that the system is not tied to any personality, including Lukashenko”, He expressed on August 31 when he announced that representatives of the Constitutional Court were working on the project.
“Now we have specialists, among whom there are judges from the Constitutional Court working on changes to the Basic Law of the country. Later, the draft of the renewed Constitution will be put to public debateLukashenko then added.
However, the main opposition leaders who participated in the elections rejected that the initiative produced a real change. In contrast, its members defend the return of the country to the Constitution of 1994, the year in which Lukashenko came to power and which he emphatically rejects..
Maria Kolesnikova, a member of the board of the opposition coordinating council for the peaceful transfer of power, said in August that this was nothing more than an attempt to manipulate society.
“Now it is unimaginable that the president is really interested in the fact that the mandates are limited to two terms and the authority of Parliament is increased, because in this case there would be the possibility of a challenge process ”, something that the president fearssaid Kolesnikova, who has been detained by Lukashenko’s forces for a week after resisting being expelled from the country.
Meanwhile, the protest movement that crosses Belarus since the August 9 elections held this Sunday a new massive march to reiterate their discontent with the president. Since the date of the elections, the opposition identified with white and red flags has managed to gather more than 100,000 people in the streets of the capital.
From the first moments of the parade, baptized “March of the heroes” referring to the victims of the repression, the police announced that they had proceeded to arrest “About 250 people” in Minsk for “using flags and other symbols” of the opposition. Last weekend some 600 were arrested in Minsk and other cities.
Saturday, riot police also harshly broke up a rally of women in the capital and arrested dozens of them, on another day of protest.
Svetlana Tijanóvskaya, a candidate for the presidential election who claimed victory over Lukashenko and is in exile in Lithuania, in a video he greeted a “truly heroic people” who are continuing their “fight for freedom.”