It seems like Lukashenko finally realized that the scenario of his possibly inevitable ouster by one way or another — be it economic collapse caused by a nationwide strike, a “deep state” coup by his security services, resignation, etc. — is becoming more likely by the day, which would explain why he decided to start preparing for a “dignified” exit that preserves the rule of law as best as possible under the circumstances. His solution is to reform the constitution in order to “redistribute power“, and while cynics might think that this is just a ploy for him to buy time with the hope that the regime change protests fizzle out, it’s expected that they’ll actually intensify since the opposition smells blood and knows that he’s the weakest that he’s ever been in his political career. This means that he’ll be pressured from below (Color Revolution) and above (the West and possibly even Russia) to expedite the interconnected referendum-election process. It’s unclear at this moment what the timeline for that might be, but it would have to be sooner than later if he wants to save his skin.
When One Door Closes, Another Opens
While some might bemoan the thought of a seemingly “pro-Russian” leader “falling”, this scenario doesn’t necessarily have to be as dark as some may think. In fact, a “phased leadership transition” might actually be the best option that Russia could have hoped for in this crisis, hence why it might have even speculatively encouraged it behind the scenes. The Kremlin would of course have preferred for the Color Revolution never to have been launched in the first place, but since it has and there’s no going back to the “status quo ante bellum”, it makes sense to try to responsibly manage the transition in order to decrease the chances of it spiraling out of control. What’s meant by this is that Russia now has the opportunity to cultivate relations with various opposition figures (provided of course that a Kiev-like coup doesn’t soon take place which prevents this from happening) to ensure that its national security interests are taken into account by the most likely government to follow in exchange for certain economic and energy “perks”.
To be clear, the author isn’t personally endorsing this course of events nor is there any evidence that Russia is in support of a “phased leadership transition” playing out in Belarus, let alone in favor of one particular candidate (Babariko) coming out on top in the next presidential elections. The purpose of this analysis was to explore the interplay of domestic and foreign interests in this crisis with a view towards brainstorming a “political solution” influenced by what Lukashenko himself hinted when he announced that presidential elections will follow the promulgation of a new constitution whenever that might be. The best-case scenario would of course have been for the Hybrid War on Belarus never to have been unleashed, and then for Lukashenko to have secured his seat in office, but since the proverbial genie is already out of the bottle and his political future looks dimmer by the day, it’s relevant to wonder what might come next, hence this analysis. Looking forward, it’s difficult to predict what will happen, but this piece should hopefully point readers in the general direction that events are headed.Lukashenko Just Hinted at a ‘Phased Leadership Transition’ in Belarus