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“Lukashenko underrates the risks of dealing with nationalism like Yanukovych once did in Ukraine”

Oleg Nemensky. Photo: publicdiplomacy.su

The trends towards “Belarusization” that have been observed in Belarus’ official policy during the recent years pose a threat to both the single humanitarian space of Russia and Belarus and, particularly, Alexander Lukashenko’s power, Oleg Nemensky, leading research fellow at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies told EADaily on February 1.

“During the last few years, the official policy of Belarus has been full of such phenomena that could not be called anything but Belarusization. At the same time, it is important to understand that Belarus is formally a national state and the efforts to revive the national language and expand the field of its influence is one of the government’s duties,” Nemensky said.

At the same time, the expert blames Alexander Lukashenko for his policy of 1990s that has actually resulted in marginalization of the Belarusian language. “At present, it is hard to speak seriously about the increasing role of the Belarusian language or argue that it will become one of the state languages which is stipulated by the constitution. Today, the Belarusian language is absolutely marginalized. It is a kind of gibberish for the opposition. Secondly, it plays the role of a state symbol. Yet nearly no one speaks in Belarusian, mostly thanks to Lukashenko. Once he was interested in a signle Russian space, in waging a policy within the interests of Belarus at the same time representing the Russian people in the broadest sense of the word. Much has changed since then. Now, he is more committed to protecting the interests of Belarus before Russia. Furthermore, his turnaround to the West is becoming more evident due to his uneasy relations with Russia,” Nemensky said.

He believes that the ongoing Belarusization pursues one goal – to increase Lukashenko’s approval rating among the Belarusian patriot public. Perhaps, Nemensky said, the Belarus leader is demonstrating Russia that he may be an unmanageable leader whose policy is based on the Belarusian nationalism not the ideas of integration.

In his words, such an approach may pose certain risks to both humanitarian relations with Russia and Belarus and Lukashenko, particularly.

“The Belarusian language will not become popular, but this policy is rather dangerous for the humanitarian space. There are some ideological aspects too. Belarusization is not just preservation of the Belarusian language but expansion of the Belarus nationalist views about history and Russia. The current campaign will be a success here. By the example of Ukraine, we can judge that even the most outspoken nationalists and radical Russophobes often prefer Russian to Ukrainian and see nothing contradictory in that. What makes such Belarusian nationalists dangerous is that they do not even think of learning the Belarusian language. Their nationalism is their Russophobia, which is a very dangerous,” Nemensky said.

As for Lukashenko, Nemensky thinks he will never become an insider for the Belarusian nationalist. “Unfortunately, it appears that Lukashenko underrates this fact, like Yanukovych did in Ukraine yet not so long ago,” he said.

To recall, the пovernment of Belarus has approved a “Republican Plan of Events for the Culture Year in 2016.” The document enlists events to popularize the Belarusian language and conduct a “Vyshyvanka Day” (a holiday dedicated to the national embroidered shirt).

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