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Discovering The Real Belarus – with awesome pics!

Belarus 2

In this post we are offering you an rare glimpse of the many facets of Belarus. There has been a stigma attached to Belarus in the West, while the real understanding and truthful assessment of what’s happening in those parts is non-existent. West-dominated global media has simply accepted the claim that Belarus is a dictatorship and until recently it was generally accepted in the West that if Belarus hasn’t fallen apart yet, it surely soon will.

The truth is entirely different, of course. Just to give you an idea of a typical Western MSM bashing approach, here is an excerpt from UK’s ‘Independent.’

WARNING! This 2012 piece from UK’s publication ‘Independent’ will probably make you roll your eyes and shake your head due to how badly it misses the mark and because in 2016 WE KNOW what subsequently happened to the countries and leaders mentioned in it. But I want to assure you that it’s not the focus of our article. The only reason I mention the ‘Independent’ piece is to provide a perspective and so you could understand fully what Belarus is up against and what kind of madmen we are dealing with in the West.

After this, we will proceed to our today’s Belorussia feature. FT contributor Stanislav Sokolov (Nemo) and I have prepared a real treat for you! But that’s for sweet desert. Before we get to that, here’s a telling excerpt from the ‘Independent.’ Note that the article below was written and an interview was taken by a former Russian, working for ‘Independent,’ whose personal views coincide with typical Western propaganda.

The ‘Independent’ excerpt:

LINK: What’s so good about democracy anyway? Audience with the last dictator in Europe – 2012

QUOTE: As President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has made the former Soviet state a pariah nation. In a rare interview, he says that it’s security rather than freedom that his people really want.

Alexander Lukashenko

It is said you can judge a man by the company he keeps. If so, Alexander Lukashenko – President of Belarus for the last 18 years – is sending out worrying signals.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President whose regime has overseen the massacres of Houla and Daraya, is described as “wonderful” and “an absolute European, civilized man”. Colonel Gaddafi is name-dropped, as is Saddam Hussein.

Sat amid the faux grandeur of his offices in Minsk, he recalled the cosy chats he once shared with the former Libyan autocrat – “I told him: ‘Muammar, you need to sort things out with Europe yourself!’ Then he told me about his relationship with Sarkozy” – and more darkly about how the West turned on his old Iraqi confidant.

“American envoys came to see me before the crisis in Iraq and asked me to say that there were nuclear weapons in Iraq. I refused. They even told me that things would go well for Belarus in terms of investments, etc. All I had to do was to support them.

“I told them that I couldn’t do it because I knew that there were no nuclear weapons there. And, after talking to Hussein back then, I told them that Hussein was ready to come to an agreement with them regarding oil, if that’s what they were after, and other things. Just don’t bomb; don’t destroy the country! He was ready to show – and showed – all these [alleged WMD] sites.

“Their answer was: ‘We believe you, but the war machine’s engine is already running too fast.’ I swear to you that this conversation took place and that a man came to see me and we were discussing this matter in this very room.”

With that he leant back and stared intently at me. An imitation fire flickered in the hearth, the plastic logs casting a febrile glow across the left-side of his face.

“It’s a double standard,” he insisted with some justification. “Americans want to make us democratic. Go make Saudi Arabia democratic! Do we look like Saudi Arabia? Far from it! Why not make them democratic? Because he is a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch.

“You’re bandits. Democratic bandits. You’ve destroyed thousands, maybe millions of people [in Iraq and Afghanistan].” He exclaimed: “I’m living through being democratised with a truncheon on the head by the West every day. Who needs that kind of democracy?”

Authoritarianism is still prevalent in former Soviet states. It was why I had wanted to visit Belarus and meet its leader. I wanted a reminder of where we had come from. To my disquiet, what I found was a warning of what might happen if other ex-Soviet countries in the region turn away from Europe and back towards the past.

Google Lukashenko and the prefix you find most given is “Europe’s last dictator”. It was a moniker coined in 2005 by the United States when it called on the people of Belarus to cast off the “yoke of tyranny”.   (END QUOTE)

LADA’S NOTES

What can I add to this? Everything’s clear, isn’t it? What an absolute fiasco of an article. I literally have never seen a publication or a ‘journalist’ manage to put their foot in their mouth so many times in the course of several paragraphs. Lukashenko was, after all, right about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq invasion, about Gaddafi, about Assad, Saudi Arabia, USA, and West in general. Moreover, he turned out a lot more right in his approach towards building and preserving his country than the bordering Ukraine, previously the darling of the West among post-Soviet states. All one has to do is recall Ukraine’s 2014 ukro-nazi color revolution and its catastrophic consequence of civil war, economic destruction and country’s breakup.

How fascinating it is to read that clueless 2012 article from the height of the knowledge and experience we possess in 2016. How much food for thought and how many lessons it brings to light!

Belarus

2016 map of Belarus and surrounding countries

In 2015 I visited Belarus and its capital Minsk. I was invited to deliver a high-level consultation on geopolitical and global economic developments, followed by an offer of a long-term consulting position. I talk more about that in my recent post: Eurasia Developments: Belarus Monetary Reform; Moscow World’s Most Dynamic City; Armenia Joins Russian Air Defence.

Belarus, also called Belorussia, is the western-most post-Soviet republic, which first acquired independence in 1991, after then heads of Russia (Yeltsin), Belarus and Ukraine met in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, a famous nature preserve on Belorussian territory, and decided to go their separate ways. The Belovezhskaya Pushcha Agreement is considered by many in the post-Soviet space illegal; there are growing demands to annul it and classify it as treason. Whether there is any chance of that happening is a different story, which I’ll touch upon in one of the future Earth Shift Reports.

Before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution Belarus was an integral part of Russia. Before the independence was handed to Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic on a platter in 1991, Belarus never had any history of statehood. Belorussian language was in fact considered a western-Russian dialect, much like the Ukrainian language.

As a linguist I can tell you that compared to Belorussian, Ukrainian dialect was infinitely more developed and prominent, and had more characteristics of a language. For one: a number of big authors wrote in it, which is one of the required characteristics for a language status. The most prominent such author is a 19th century Russian literary genius Nikolay Gogol; others worth mentioning: Taras Shevchenko, Lesia Ukrainka and Grigory Skovoroda. Two: several million spoke Ukrainian, which again isn’t sufficient, but a helpful characteristic to classify a dialect as a language. None of these characteristics are present in Belorussian.

That said, even the exceptionally developed southern-Russian, aka, Malorussian/Ukrainian was still a dialect. Most writers, such and Gogol, still primarily used Russian language in their work; in cities, such as Kiev, people mostly spoke Russian, while in villages mostly Ukrainian or a mix.

Let’s also recall that the area surrounding Kiev and what is today central Ukraine was traditionally called Malorossia (aka Russia Minor, as opposed to The Greater Russia). The words ‘Ukraine’ and ‘Ukrainian’ came from Polish. These words don’t need a translation in any Slavic language, simply meaning ‘on the edge’ or ‘outskirts.’ The 19th century Polish and Austria-Hungarian landlords labeled so the poor villagers who were under their yoke in western Ukraine. It was later that the label was expanded to central Ukraine and Kiev, which wasn’t considered a part of Ukraine.

By 1922, Lenin insisted that the core Russian territories of east and south be added to Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The reason was geopolitically and politically expedient at the time, but it created a long-term disaster, as we are seeing today. I lay out the entire spread on the issues of Ukraine, Malorossia, its true history and language issues, why Lenin made such disastrous decisions, and much more in my Ukraine-dedicated Earth Shift Reports: ESR2, ESR3 and ESR6.

Both Ukrainian and Belorussian dialects were given the status of languages by Lenin during the formation of the USSR in 1922. Compared to Ukrainian/Malorussian, Belorussian dialect was much less developed, being its poor cousin. Therefore, it has taken a lot more effort, with very little result, to mold a dialect into any semblance of a proper language. Despite the widespread availability of the artificially created Belorussian language, most in Belarus speak Russian.

Belorussian President since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko, has been labeled by the West ‘the last dictator of Europe.’ Belarus and Lukashenko have been under Western sanctions since 1990s and to this day very few Western countries have diplomatic relations with Belarus.

Yet, as I discussed in IS PUTIN PART OF NWO?, Belarus expertly navigated the turbulent waters of the Western-financed color revolutions and economic crises and is still doing pretty well, avoiding many potential disasters.

Moreover, Lukashenko, whom I call ‘the sly fox,’ managed to capitalize on Ukraine’s problems, on the rift between EU and Russia and on anti-Russian sanctions. Sometimes he plays a peacemaker or gracious host, as in the case of hosting Ukraine-DNR/LNR Minsk negotiations with Putin, Hollande and Merkel. The result of that was that some of the long-standing anti-Belarus sanctions came off.

On the other hand, capitalizing on the Russian sanctions, Belarus engaged in piracy and illegal distribution: for example, enterprising Belorussians would import banned produce and goods from the EU, then slap Belorussian labels on them and pass them on the Russian market as their own. This underhanded approach offended Russians and even caused a public clash between Putin, when he pointed out the facts of piracy, and Lukashenko. Under Putin’s pressure, Lukashenko was eventually forced to crack down on illegal bait-and-switch, and relations normalized again. 

Lukashenko is a sly fox and an outspoken eccentric, who once in a while does put his foot in his mouth. But for the time being he is the only leader who can keep Belarus together and in pretty good shape, especially considering the mess in the nearby Ukraine and Baltics. Moreover, Belarus, along with Kazakhstan, plays an exceedingly important role as a support system for Russia in her role as the Great Global Balancer. Belarus also actively participates in the shaping up of the new, multi-polar world. For this reason, Lukashenko is forgiven his lapses and eccentricities and Belarus is treated by Russia with kid gloves.

Read all this and much more juicy intel and Lada Ray original, off-the-beaten-path predictions about Belarus and Lukashenko in ESR1 reloaded: IS PUTIN PART OF NWO? (Lukashenko’s Bluff).

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And here is the treat I promised! And did I mention that Stanislav is also an awesome photographer? Check out a treasure trove of his Minsk pics! Along the way of his travels Stanislav also visited Helsinki, Finland, so we have thrown in a couple of images of Helsinki as well.

In the end, I’ll have a few afterthoughts and clarifications of my own.

Travelogue: DISCOVERING BELARUS

by Stanislav Sokolov (Nemo)

This article is a series of observations from my recent week-long trip to Minsk and surroundings, and will be comprised of a few sketched notes around some general topic that I observed, which together will hopefully help create a picture of Belorussia. It was the first time I visited Belorussia – I haven’t been there even while living in USSR and was curious as to how the land and the people fared.

Interestingly, my trip went through Finland – another country that I visited for the first time. Despite the turbulent history of the 20th century, Finns still keep the history of their federative association with the Russian Empire, keep the monuments and stellas, and do not re-write history as is the want in the other Western European countries.

Only a few Western European countries have diplomatic relation with Belorussia, and Finland is one of them. I could have applied for Belorussian visa in Finland, but I chose another venue, contacting consular services at the Minsk airport, submitting all the paperwork there beforehand, and getting my visa on arrival.

Roads and transportation

The first thing that meets you when driving from Minsk airport is the road. One of an exceptionally high quality. And this high standard of quality roads persists not only in the capital itself, but also outside – in the surrounding towns that I travelled to. Another thing that Belorussia is famous for, is its railroad network. You can set clock by departures and arrivals, and travelling by rail is a real pleasure. There are modern regional trains and well as trains with cars from the Soviet period, though maintained with care. Belorussia is the only country of the former USSR that has not squandered its Soviet heritage, but built on it and multiplied it.

An interesting detail: all the man-hole covers in the streets are new and, moreover, painted to prevent them from rusting. In Lithiania, for example, all manhole covers are from 70s-80s and are thoroughly worn-out. Or take the traffic lights… The vast majority of them are of a modern bright LED kind, with the central circle showing the number of seconds until the light shifts from red to green or back, allowing the drivers to plan their acceleration and breaking. All are small details, but quite telling.

Industry and agriculture

The second thing you notice are the fields, ploughed and planted. The land is not left idle and in desolation, as is the case in the neighbouring Lithuania, but is serving the country’s needs as well as producing enough surplus for export. The industrial complex is also intact and fully functional. A small fragment of an impression: my hotel room was equipped with flat-panel TV and a Peltier element mini-bar. This is expected of any world hotel with a name to itself. But while in most countries the TV and the mini-bar would have been made in China or Malaysia, here they were Made in Belarus. I checked. The TV model, by the way, is called Horizont – a mark that I’ve known since the Soviet times. I am quite particular when the picture quality is concerned, and I would give that TV quite high marks.

Minsk

Coming to Minsk, I felt an acute sense of deja-vu, like I’ve already been there. And then I realised that I felt myself like in Moscow of my youth, back in the 80s. It was the combination of many factors. People speaking Russian in the kind of ‘a’-sounding dialect typical of Moscow (I’ll come back to the language later). The vast expanses – wide roads, wide pavements, distance between blocks that can be up to 100 meters. In Western Europe I became accustomed to the compact, overcrowded building plan, and did not realise what I was missing of the old days. Then there is a feeling of security and stability – something that you never feel now days in a big city. I walked around Minsk by night and all was quite and orderly. And finally, the architecture was also reminding me of the centre of Moscow.

Minsk railroad square
Minsk Railway Square

That’s not a coincidence, by the way. Belorussia got the brunt of the first hit from the German Nazis. Everything was wiped out. Of the whole historic Minsk, all that remains are a dozen houses in the Trinity Neighbourhood. The rest of Minsk was razed to the ground by the Germans. After the War, it was rebuilt in the neo-Classical style that you see today.

Today, the city of Minsk is getting a lot of modern buildings – you can see a lot of construction sites a little bit off from the centre. The apartments can either be bought privately (with loan level, comparable to most Western European countries) or with state subsidy. Besides, Minsk is expanding it’s Metro system with the 3rd line being built now.

Another characteristic feature of Minsk (as well as other towns of Belorussia) is their cleanliness. You won’t see any litter in the streets – not a scrap of paper, not a cigarette stub. And the reason for this lies not only in the nightly cleaning/washing of the streets. It is primarily in the mindset of the people. As one of the locals told me: you wouldn’t throw litter around your house, so why would you around your city? I think that is an important, fundamental feeling when you know that the land you live on is yours too, and not just some abstract state.

Shops and food

Whichever shop you come into, the assortment and quality of food is impressive. In my conversations with the locals, I got to know that the state owns only about 20% of the stores, while the rest is private business. The shelves are full of local produce, with a few imports. Below is an exhibition window of a bakery shop Karavai – a must-stop for anyone with a sweet tooth.

bakery shop Karavai Minsk

bakery shop Karavai Minsk 2

bakery shop Karavai Minsk 3

Bakery shop (Pekarnia) “Karavai”, Minsk, Belarus

Eating out is also a pleasure – there are a lot of places to choose from, catering to all kinds of tastes. I found one restaurant, serving delicious selections of Russian “varenniki” and “pelmeni” – stretching it a bit, you can call that a kind of pasta. The place is called Gurman, and though it is a walking distance from some of the tourist points of interest in Minsk, it is frequented by the locals.

Language

Language is both a big and a small issue, depending on how you look upon in. As we’ve seen on the example of Ukraine, language (or an artificial separation of dialects into languages) can be used divide people and start wars.

Simply put, everywhere I went, everyone was speaking Russian. And, moreover, the type of speech typical for Moscow, with the predominant “a” sound where “o” would be written. (Moskva becomes Maskva, Belorussia becomes Belarusia). It is written Belorussian that makes one pause. Jokingly, people told me that they write with all the grammatical and pronunciation errors one can make in Russian. Or What You Hear Is What You Write. Basically that’s the same first step in making a dialect into a language, that was also taken in Malorossia/Galicia in 1800s, leading to Ukrainian.

Then, there is a more complex perspective. There is an official Belorussian language, which no one speaks. I only heard it once at the railway station. I was quite amusing – at first I thought they were announcing all the trains twice in Russian, and only after having listened closely, I noticed some subtle differences. A taxi driver, to my question of how widespread the official Belorussian was, told me that he hears it approximately once a year from some of the more radically-mooded youths. And that people don’t pay much attention to it. Maybe they should?

And then there is an even more troubling development. Take a look at the route of bus #1 that goes along the central avenue of Minsk:

Minsk Bus 1

At first glance, nothing untoward – names in Cyrillic for the locals and in Latin for the guests of the capital. Then you take a closer look. That’s not simply translations of the names. That’s essentially a Latinisation of them, along with Czech-looking umlaut characters of “č” and “š”. Let’s remember that attempts to Latinise Russian language were ongoing for several centuries. This may be yet another vector of attack on the Slavic roots.

Moreover, the names, which are basically lifted from Ukrainian – as I wrote above, I did not hear a single person call them that. Two examples: Independence Avenue in Ukrainian (and official Belorussian) is “Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci”, while in Russian it’s “Prospekt Nezavisimosti” (“independence” from what? History? Roots?); The Victory Square in Ukrainian/Belorussian is “Plošča Pieramohi”, while in Russian it is “Ploshad’ Pobedy”.

Ploshad Pobedy
Victory Square, Minsk

Circus
State Circus, Minsk

Man Is A Fool

Man is a fool,
When it’s hot, he wants it cool,
When it’s cool, he wants it hot,
He always wants what he has not

I already mentioned the sense of security and stability that I felt in Belorussia. What I found peculiar, is the kind of grumbling from the locals, aimed at this stability “oh, yeah, we have STABILITY, but you are luckier being there in Europe”.

Another point of discontent comes from a kind of inferiority complex, comparing themselves to how much better it is in Europe, while saying that Belorussia only tries to catch-up. One example: I asked in one of the taxis that I rode, if I can pay with Visa card. The reply was along the lines of “yes, but the connection is slow and patchy, we try to make it appear like in Europe at stop when the appearances are satisfied, without bothering about functionality”. Well, payment went through very well. And never mind that in Germany, when calling for a taxi, you need to say in advance that you want to pay with VISA, or you may get a car, which is not equipped with a terminal.

One manifestation of such expectation that everything is better on the other side, was a song/rap that I heard on one of the radio stations – something about dreaming of Jamaica, but only having “Minsk sea” to do diving in. “Minsk sea” being a somewhat bitter, self-derisive joke. Seemingly quite an innocent one, but setting a subconscious undercurrent of discontent in the youth.

Let us hope that such undercurrents would no be nurtured by the outside forces into the kind of tsunami that finally destroyed Ukraine in 2014.

LADA’S AFTERTHOUGHTS

I loved that last bit and the verse about a man being a fool. This is so applicable to Belarus, and some time ago it was also applicable to Russia. Not so much any more due to the events of the past several years, which caused Russians to awaken and grow up in a hurry.

Let me explain why some (and I emphasize that it’s only some) Belorussians don’t value what they have, but instead think the grass is greener somewhere else.

This was the attitude I recall from the Soviet days, albeit, as I said, Russians managed to grow out of it. This attitude, which I personally never had, was born of entitlement widespread during the later Soviet Union days. The life was so stable, so quiet and so secure that some thought their life wasn’t worth anything. Somewhere in the West they had excitement, adventure and high life. Soviet people, being too sheltered and isolated, didn’t understand that everything had a flip side. The flip side of high life is poverty and drudgery; adventure and excitement may mean danger to your life and the danger to the very existence of your country and culture. But man is a fool and the grass is always greener far and away for those who lack wisdom. Sometimes the grass really is greener elsewhere, but it always comes with strings attached and it’s always a trade-off, which, in the final analysis, you may not want.

In most other post-Soviet republics they already got it due to many tough lessons they had to learn in the past 25 odd years. The reason Belorussians still don’t know how to count their blessings is because they continue being sheltered by the ‘dictator Lukashenko’s’ regime.

In reality, just like Kazakhstan, Belarus is what I call a stewardship, not a dictatorship. The steward in charge takes care of his country as if it was his own domain and family, with great care and attention to detail, security and preservation of culture and industry. Like ‘big daddy’ he may be overbearing. He does everything to ensure a smooth sailing and a lack of shocks to his domain and people in his care. This results in some immature citizens feeling like rebellious teenagers (which is what such people really are, having never grown up).

They long to break out of the mold and experience something that the tough steward’s careful management doesn’t allow them to experience: turmoil, crisis and ups and downs, which they interpret as adventure, sparkle and excitement. Such attitude, when everything’s given to someone on a platter and therefore is not appreciated, is in some way akin to that of a spoiled rich brat.

This is a major downside of a sheltered existence and of any country functioning as a stewardship. A very similar situation developed in the late USSR, when the young generation took what they had for granted and didn’t value it; and this in part precipitated the USSR collapse. The shocks of the past 25 years took care of that in Russia as the Russian population quickly matured. It helped to have Putin and his team in power.

On the other hand, Ukrainians took their own country for granted so much and for so long that they had a bloody 2014 coup, resulting in total collapse. Now they don’t take anything for granted not knowing what tomorrow will bring, and many wish the old, good Yanukovich were back. Too late: the country is on its way to disintegration.

Belorussians haven’t had any major shocks and setbacks; therefore, they are somewhat behind in their maturing process. Some signals coming from Belarus are worrisome, but so far so good. Lukashenko is the right steward for the delicate job.

Read more of my predictions on Belarus in Earth Shift Reports linked below!

FOCUS BELARUS:

I have more than once discussed Belarus and its President Lukashenko in my various pieces. This is a mini-guide: links to the most significant mentions of Belarus in my work.

1

Read FREE latest article on FuturisTrendcast:

Eurasia Developments: Belarus Monetary Reform

2

The realities of Belarus, comparisons to nearby Russia, Ukraine and Baltics, as well as what is Lukashenko playing at and what is his long-term strategy, complete with predictions:

EARTH SHIFT REPORT 1 reloaded:

IS PUTIN PART OF NWO? 

(Astana KZ – New NWO Capital? Bonus: Lukashenko’s Bluff)

3

Belarus and Lukashenko, their role as support for Russia – the Great Balancer and as a building block forthe Great Eurasia project, are addressed in

Video EARTH SHIFT REPORT 9

ATTACK ON KAZAKHSTAN: WHO DESTABILIZES EURASIAN UNION?

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Many thanks to Stanislav for a wonderful Belorussia travelogue and for the gorgeous images!

PLEASE VISIT STANISLAV’S SITE: Stanislavs.org

 


Additional photos from Stanislav Sokolov:

MINSK, BELARUS

Railway square detail 1
Detail of the left building on the Railway Square, Minsk

Railway square detail 2
Detail of the right building on the Railway Square, Minsk

GUM
An ornamental detail of the State Universal Store (GUM), Minsk

Airport
View from the window of Minsk airport towards the open-air museum. IL-76 in the middle

HELSINKI, FINLAND

Helsinki cathedral
Panoramic view of the Cathedral on the Senate Square in Helsinki

Alexander II
The monument to Czar Alexander II in Helsinki

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Why Lukashenko and Belarus Are Cozying Up to the West?

Визит В.Путина в Белоруссию

 Interesting body language during Ukraine peace talks in Minsk (2014). President of Belarus Lukashenko (center left) inviting Putin to proceed, while subconsciously blocking Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Katherine Ashton of EU. 

See more about the telling body language in Lada Ray Predictions Coming True; Mind Control in Ukraine; Putin, Gorbachev, Poroshenko.

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This post is part of 

EARTH SHIFT REPORT 1 double feature+

IS PUTIN PART OF NWO? Astana KZ – New NWO Capital?

Bonus: Lukashenko’s Bluff

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From the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, Belarus has been playing a role of a moderator between Ukraine and EU on one side and Russia and Donbass/Novorossia on the other. This culminated in the Minsk accords and ceasefire in E. Ukraine, which admittedly, aren’t being observed very well. But many still believe it’s better than nothing. It is definitely some kind of a start on the way to peace desperately needed by the poor citizens who live under constant threat of bombings. The most important thing Minsk can do is provide a neutral, friendly to both sides, platform in case there is a sudden need in a meeting between warring parties in Ukraine. Play Switzerland, so to speak.

Make no mistake, for little Belarus, this is their star hour. Since 1994, when Lukashenko first became Belarusian president, he’s been labeled the ‘last dictator of Europe’ and tyrant. Belarus has been on and off under sanctions; the beginnings of the newly independent post-Soviet republic were very humble. All this happened because, unlike most, Belarus refused to forget the Soviet past and refused to give up their economy to please the West.

I wrote previously that in the early ’90s, Ukraine was touted by the West as the MOST developed of the USSR’s three Slavic republics (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) – even more so than Russia. Starting in 1990-91, with its educated population, spectacular agricultural soils and developed tech industry (built by Russia during Soviet times) Ukraine was trumpeted as ‘most likely to succeed’ among all post-Soviet republics.

Western ‘experts,’ with some Russian neo-liberals and oligarchs jumping on the bandwagon, predicted that Russia would turn into a no-man’s land, and slowly disintegrate all by herself. Just goes to show how inept and little-minded Western and neo-liberal Russian ‘experts’ are. Needless to say, none of these ‘predictions’ came true.

For real predictions that actually do come true, read my PREDICTIONS.

At the same time as Ukraine was given prime time, Belarus was either neglected and laughed at in the West, or maligned.

As an aside: it is now crystal clear WHY the West praised Ukraine in the early ’90s, while putting Russia down. The plan was to put as big of a wedge as possible between the two closest people – Russians and Ukrainians, and to make Russians feel inadequate and incapable of resistance in the midst of the wholesale demolition of the Russian economy. Something similar, but accompanied with a civil war, is happening now in Ukraine. Note, the Kiev coup and violent overturn of Yanukovich took place after Yanukovich refused to sign the EU association agreement that would rob Ukraine blind.

The above strategy towards Russia worked for a time, while Yeltsin was in power. But the moment Putin came to power, the tide changed dramatically. I observed Putin since the moment he appeared on world stage in 2000. Unlike American ‘analysts’ and talking heads, I knew from the very first moment that a massive change was about to begin. Putin was very smart to lay low for a while, until he gathered enough allies and strength to start acting, while US elites for 2-3 years labored under a misapprehension that he would be just as easy as Yeltsin.

I wrote about Putin in my mystical thriller THE EARTH SHIFTER (character’s name is President Dobrov). I will discuss Putin in detail in the upcoming THE PUTIN ENIGMA Report, which you will find soon at LadaRay.info. Also, a great piece to read is: FREE Earth Shift Report 1: Is Putin Part of NWO?

While the West was concentrating on Russia, Ukraine and other strategic locations, Belarus remained in the shadows. Lukashenko, when he came to power, became that tough leader who managed to keep the country together and provide stability. This allowed Belarusians to slowly build on Soviet platform, developing what we now understand was a rich and profitable inheritance. While Russia was being looted by oligarchs and their Western backers, while Ukraine was also looted by oligarchs, falling at the same time deeper and deeper into its self-inflicted delusion and mass psychosis, Belarus kept its head down and worked very hard. Belarusians are very hard-working, friendly and rather low-key people.

During the Russian Empire days Belarus was one of the poorest territories of Russia. They survived on potatoes alone and were to the 19th century Russia what Ireland was to Western Europe: a tucked away on the western-most outskirts and poor like church rats territory no one was interested in. Perhaps that memory of extreme poverty and obscurity is what made Belarusians both cunning and hard-working. Without any oil, gas, or any other natural resources to speak of, Belarus managed to pull out in much better shape than once much richer neighboring Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania (latter two – EU members).

Most post-Soviet republics squandered their formidable Soviet inheritance, resulting in decimation of industry, mass exodus of population, and other catastrophes. Ukraine is the best example of that – I write about it here: FREE Earth Shift Report 2: Ukraine, Russia and Falsified History.

Next to Belarus, another example of being able to preserve their heritage despite all odds is the unrecognized Pridnestrovie (Transnistria). More about it here: Moldova Explosion Coming 2: Coalition “Moldova’s Choice-Customs Union” and LRL2: Explosion Coming! Moldova/Transnistria – Eurasian Union vs EU.

Despite sanctions and constant fighting with the West, Lukashenko did several pretty brilliant things for his country and people:

1. Unlike most post-Soviet republics, he preserved the Soviet industrial and agricultural inheritance – and built on it.

2. Kept the country stable.

3. Managed to stay friends with Russia.

4. As a result of a special relationship with Russia, Belarus managed to receive the world’s lowest price on Russian gas and very favorable Russian loans.

5. Let’s not forget: Belarus, together with Kazakhstan and Russia is one of the three founding members of Eurasian Union.

Eurasian union 2

Right to left: Putin of Russia, Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Lukashenko of Belarus – founding members of Eurasian Union

All the above factors, but especially the cheap, cheap gas paved the way to the so-called ‘Belarusian miracle.’ Belarus pays something to the tune of $165 for its gas, which is about the same as heavily subsidized internal Russian price. Compare that to $350-400+ EU pays. The new price for gas for Ukraine is about $385, however, they don’t pay that either. Such gas price makes Belarusian economy extremely competitive internationally. Obviously, without Russian almost free gas and Russian subsidies Belarusian miracle they are so proud of would have never happened.

The above is an illustration of how Russia robbed herself to subsidize other republics, and some other poor countries, during Soviet times. Some readers asked me how Russia could have disengaged in the ’90s from Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and other republics, which allowed the US/West to infiltrate them resulting in color revolutions and anti-Russian pro-NATO states on Russian borders. Of course, it was a bad geopolitical decision to disengage. Yet, it can be understood: Russia always paid disproportioned price for supporting others, at her own expense. This made the core Russian population resentful.

Presently, Russia is attempting to balance own interests with the necessity to support allies.

What is Belarusian miracle?

Belarus preserved all of the industrial factories Russia built on its territory during Soviet times. And then, Belarus expanded and modernized them. Today Belarus exports its machinery to over 100 countries; its busses, tractors and heavy trucks are world-known. Belarus is also well-known in the garment industry. They make clothes for export and Belarussian cheap labor (compared to Europe) is often used by Italian designers. They produce much higher quality stuff than China. Traditional Belarusian agriculture also developed well and became quite efficient. Today, Russians go to Belarus to learn agricultural management.

Roads in Belarus – the transit country between Russia and EU – are BETTER than in the EU. The country is incredibly clean everywhere. This is how I remember growing up in the Soviet Union: everything, everywhere was very clean. This heritage Belarus also preserved.

As I mentioned before, there are no oligarchs in Belarus; there are rich people, but fewer than in neighboring countries. At the same time, average citizens feel more protected by the state. Pensioners get decent state pensions and subsidies, feeling secure. Inflation is high, but so far it’s manageable. Utilities and communal (housing/yard maintenance, water, gas, heat) payments are a fraction of what people pay in Russia (where they are not high either), and especially in the EU. All education, including college, is free. Students get paid stipendium for good grades. This is another Soviet heritage that Belarus preserved. Compare that to recent announcement by Ukraine that school pupils after 9th grade will have to pay to attend 10th and 11th grades if they want to complete secondary education.

In the summer of 2014 I visited Belarus. Everything I describe is from personal experiences. Of course there are problems – which country doesn’t have them. But overall, there are undeniable achievements.

Sly fox Lukashenko and international relations

Throughout the years, there were certain disputes and gas price disagreements between Russia and Belarus, as well as attempts by Belarus to capitalize on Ukraine and EU’s pressure on Russia. There were attempts to blackmail Russia due to gas transit. 20% of Russian gas to the EU goes through Belarus. Belarus often plays on Russia-West differences in order to get what they want (like a child of the divorced parents, who would play mom and dad). These games are relatively successful. It’s a balancing act for everyone involved, to be sure.

A reader once asked me about the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. My opinion of him hasn’t changed: he is an old sly fox. Lukashenko isn’t stupid; nor is Belarus likely to turn into Ukraine.

Read my article about US lifting sanctions against Cuba: Weakness or Cunning? Why US decided to End 50-Year Standoff with Cuba Now. I said that small and in-between countries can benefit during this era of mega-clashes among the giants, if they are smart. One could make a case for it being manipulative, just like the aforementioned spoiled kid playing divorced parents against each other.

Lukashenko is doing just that. He is using a conflict between Russia and EU/US to cozy up to the West.

Belarus smuggling

Presently, A huge problem with Belarus for Russia is that taking advantage of Russia’s sanctions against the EU agriculture imports, Belarus has become a massive smuggling center. They would bring in tuna or oysters, usually imported from France or Italy, and slap their own labels to re-export that to Russia, trying to pass it as their own product. Considering Belarus doesn’t have a sea…

Other things they re-appropriate and re-export this way are fruits and veggies they never grew, fancy French cheeses they never made, and even things like jeans. While Russia is trying to crack down on Belarusian smuggling, Russia still needs Belarus. So, I don’t see this conflict going very far. Basically, it’s akin to an argument in the family – eventually the family will gather for dinner again, as if nothing happened.

Why does Lukashenko need Western love?

Several reasons:

1. Lukashenko desperately needs loans. Belarusian miracle doesn’t come cheap. Belarus is due to pay out $4bln in interest soon.

2. Elections are coming up. Lukashenko always cozies up to the West in such periods to try to prevent a color revolution they always plan around such dates to attempt unseating him. After the elections everything returns back to normal.

3. Lukashenko, being the sly fox that he is, uses any conflict between Russia and the West to get as much preferential treatment from both as possible, while it lasts. There is also the issue of pride and self-importance. Belarus has been customarily passed over for attention. The result is a burning desire to play a bigger role on world stage. Can’t blame them.

4. Belarus is trying to position itself as a moderator and go-in-between transit country between EU and Russia. AND THEY WANT TO CHARGE THROUGH THE NOSE FOR THAT. What else is new? Hence investment in the best roads possible.

5. Opening a joint Ukraine-Belarus TV channel is done for the same purpose: ‘See, how good we are as a moderator and peacemaker.’ It’s a good will demo of sorts. It must be understood that this neutral moderator position of Belarus is equally good for both Ukraine/EU and Russia/Donbass. There must be neutral grounds to discuss matters of war and peace.

PREDICTIONS:

My assessment is that the cunning Lukashenko, in his own way, is contributing to pulling back together what in Russia is called ‘the three brotherly nations – Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians.’

Based on the opening of the joint Belarus-Ukraine TV channel and other signs some read as worrying, a reader has asked me if I saw Belarus as turning into another Ukraine.

No, I absolutely do not. While Lukashenko is alive, he won’t let that happen. Belarusian citizens looking at the mess across the border, are very happy they have Lukashenko.

Of course, there are other objective reasons, as described above:

1. Belarusian economy is in an incomparably better shape than Ukrainian. In big part, maidan and Kiev coup took place because of the disastrous, pre-bankruptcy state of Ukraine’s economy and its wholesale looting by local oligarchs and foreign interests.

2. Unlike Ukraine, Belarus doesn’t have oligarchs, therefore, no one internally to finance and sustain a color revolution. Of course, external pressure remains. US and EU still do everything to unseat Lukashenko every time there are elections. Rioters get bussed in from Poland and Lithuania to incite violence. But Belarus KGB (yes, it’s still called KGB – talk about preserving Soviet heritage!) is on top of it.

Incidentally, there is censorship in Belarus.

3. Lukashenko is real leader and he won’t do what Yanukovich did in February. Incidentally, Lukashenko has many times announced how he feels about Yanukovich and his inadequate actions during the Kiev coup. He said publicly that Yanukovich was supposed to stay and fight, that he needed to be more decisive in countering the coup, and that he should have died fighting, like a captain of a ship. As we know, Yanukovich escaped from Ukraine barely alive. By making such statements, Lukashenko isn’t simply expressing his views on Ukraine conflict – in fact, he is letting Belarusians and the West know what he will do should such situation arise in his country. This is basically an announcement that if anyone attempts this scenario in Minsk, they won’t get very far.

After the above assessment of Ukraine deposed leader’s actions, after being buddy-buddy with Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, Lukashenko still manages to stay friends with Yanukovich and his family, which is a testament to how cunning and shrewd of a diplomat he is.

Many dislike the fact that Belarus isn’t helping Donbass, or that Lukashenko hugs and shakes hands with the Kiev junta leaders. I would say it’s a useful stance even if it seems a bit unsavory. Diplomacy and maneuvering may often seem this way to an outsider. But without reaching a compromise, peace and conflict resolution is rarely possible in our highly polarized world.

In short – no, Belarus has no chance of following Ukraine, although attempts to unseat Lukashenko will continue. Lukashenko, for his part, will continue maneuvering between Russia and the West, Russia and Ukraine.

Belarus is well-positioned in the EAU. That said, of course Belarus will exploit its transit country status and its status of the only country located between Russia and the EU that is capable and willing to be a bona fide go-in-between. Same goes for Ukraine. Belarus will milk for all it’s worth the Ukraine conflict to raise its international status as the country-moderator. 

What is EU up to?

The above notwithstanding, I received news that EU is trying to slowly correct the anti-Russian sanctions disaster by going broader. Will that have an effect remains to be seen. There are indications that EU is courting Belarus and Kazakhstan trying to distance them from Russia. If that kind of behavior continues, this won’t bridge any gaps. All it will do is create even more distrust.

EU now attempts to reach out (read: seduce, entice) these other Eurasian Union members. The idea is to get an in with Russia/ or influence Russia through them. It’s a very convoluted and complex game. German VC recently spoke about that proposal. French president Hollande recently paid a surprise visit to Kazakhstan for secret talks with Nazarbayev. On the way back from Kazakhstan, Hollande made a surprise stop in Moscow and met with Putin. Hollande admitted that it was in fact Kazakh President Nazarbayev who encouraged him to stop in Moscow for a chat with the Russian President. The new Belarus – EU warming up also plays into this scenario.

All in all, I can absolutely say that both Lukashenko of Belarus and Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan are solid leaders, and right where they are supposed to be. Their role is to serve as vitally important links and help the Russian leader Putin in the re-formatting of the world system. More about that in future Earth Shift Reports. 

France Russia

Putin and Hollande in France, May 2014

Understandably, EU is trying to find ways of a round-about compromise with Russia.  If this is sincere, Russia would welcome that. In my opinion, Russia has to be very careful not to fall into a new trap, if it turns out EU’s real intention is to distance Kazakhstan and Belarus from Russia. Of course this is also happening at the same time as US and UK are escalating the conflict, which isn’t encouraging (I’ll have more about that soon).

In the final analysis, the courting of Kazakhstan and Belarus won’t go very far. EU has to be careful not to burn even more bridges than they already have. I’d be cautiously optimistic about the EU move. It’s high time constructive and reasonable forces prevailed in the EU.

I wanted to end on an optimistic note, but I simply have to add this. Unfortunately, I have come to a conclusion that for as long as Merkel is in power, there will be no meaningful movement towards cooperation and dialogue. After giving Merkel a lot of benefit of the doubt, I have become convinced that she is a secret russophobe. She has been that all her life, but being a politician, she has been hiding it very well. I wrote about my assessment of how she grew up in some of my previous articles.

Merkel 2

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

In addition, Merkel has been compromised by NSA surveillance. There is no doubt in my mind that NSA has very damaging dirt on her, therefore pulling her strings as necessary. For these two reasons a meaningful dialogue with the EU will be very difficult for Russia, until the change of guard in Germany.

A supremely interesting and reveailing discussion continues in the comment section! Remember to check it out!

Read complete report!

IS PUTIN PART OF NWO? Astana KZ – New NWO Capital?

Bonus: Lukashenko’s Bluff

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Added 9/28/15:

Related new post: Putin’s Full Speech at 2015 UNGA: Do You Realize What Kind of Monster You’ve Created? This post includes my translation of Belarus President Alexandr Lukashenko’s new speech at the UN General Assembly 2015.

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