Lukashenko seeks to shore up Moscow’s support for Belarus crackdown
Though Mr Lukashenko previously resisted Mr Putin’s drive for integration — costing Belarus $10bn in crucial oil subsidies in the process — the recent protests spurred him to make renewed appeals for Mr Putin’s help. “Lukashenko’s behaving like he’s at the bazaar. He’s making a deal with Russia for his future,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of Russia-focused political consultancy R Politik. “He realises he needs to secure the most comfortable conditions for his future existence.”
Mr Putin has yet to spell out the price for his support, though the Kremlin dismissed talk of “mergers and acquisitions” that would see Belarus become part of Russia. Instead Moscow was likely to push Mr Lukashenko to speed up a long-delayed constitutional reform process in the hope of finding a more palatable client to head the country, Ms Stanovaya said. “The Kremlin believes that Belarusian society is pro-Russian and if Russia offers some carrots in the form of serious social policy, then there won’t be any problems,” she said.