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The conflict between Russia and Ukraine through the eyes of Belarusians
Material posted: Publication date: 14-05-2016
Validity of opinion polls in countries with authoritarian regimes is often questioned, wondering how big the answers in the fear factor, not whether they reflect merely a reluctance of respondents to Express an opinion contrary to the official line.

However, the practice survey did not confirm these doubts. In the polls of the Independent Institute of socio-economic and political studies (IISEPS), the results of which I have used, even in responses to this question ustry, as a ratio to President Alexander Lukashenko, a positive attitude to it varies from about 50% to 20%. If we assume that the failure to endorse the Governor requires a true civil courage, it is unlikely that the population of Belarus in the 50-80% of the characters.

As for the answers to questions about Russia's policy in Ukraine, then in Belarus the official line pressure there at all, and the government and official media are spinning like a snake, to avoid simple "Yes" or "no". So don't have to say that the poll results reflect only the fear of the Belarusians to Express their opinion. And on the surface, this view appears to be simple and straightforward — Belarusians in Russia.

The closest people

On the question of the relation to the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation approximately 60% of respondents over fifteen years choose the answer "It's the return of Russia of the Russian lands, the restoration of historical justice" and only 20-30% — "It is an imperialist occupation", in the responses to the question about the situation in the Donbass relative majority — 40% 50% chooses the answer "the People of new Russia has the right to self-determination" (about 25% — "no, I support the territorial integrity of Ukraine" and 10-15% — "there is no Russia, there is Russian aggression against Ukraine").

The easiest way to explain this is powerful information impact of the Belarusian state media and Russian Federal electronic media. As already mentioned, the position of the Belarusian official media are noticeably more restrained coverage of the conflict in Ukraine, than the position of their Russian colleagues, but still it is closer to Russian than to Ukrainian.

Some rights reserved. Belarusian state media put more emphasis on the virtues of Belarusian stability in comparison with Ukrainian turmoil, than on the substance of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. However, at the same time and Russian TV channels freely received in Belarus, including "the button".

So there is a temptation to explain such opinions of Belarusians exposed to both domestic and Russian TV. The explanation is simple, but, in my opinion, insufficient.

First, even among those who Russian media does not trust the balance of assessments is closer to the Russian interpretation, secondly, it is necessary to pay attention to a number of other, long-term indicators. To the question, "to whom You are culturally closer to Russians or to Europeans", about three quarters of the year to choose the first answer. And so it was long before the Euromaidan.

On a scale of social distance were always Russian for Belarusians the closest ethnic group, the Ukrainians, too, are very close, but on the 2-3 place with the poles. The ideological construct of the triune people of the Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians shared consistently over the years (and long before the Euromaidan) and the share is still approximately two-thirds of respondents.

And this is in addition to the political, economic and military alliances with Russia, with close economic ties that incomparable tightness and scale with ties with Ukraine. So in General, the advantage in favor of the Russian interpretation is due to a greater proximity.

Not our war

But a more in-depth look if you do not refute superficial impression, at least testifies to the ambivalence of the attitude of Belarusians to the conflict.

The numbers support the Russian position still significantly lower than in Russia itself. In Russia, they are sky-high, around 80-90%, the public opinion in Belarus — about 60%. In addition, the approval of the Russian position is combined with a categorical and unanimous reluctance to Belarus somehow participated in the conflict.

According to experts from several tens to several hundreds of Belarusian citizens fighting in the Donbass on both sides of the front. How is the attitude of their compatriots back home? 6% approve of the participation in the fighting on the side of the Ukrainian forces, 8% on the side of the DNI/LC, 77% — do not approve the participation of Belarusians in the battle on either side. A similar unanimity in answering the question whether, if Russia will have such an intention, to allow her to enter their troops into Ukraine across the Belarusian territory. The answer is "no" — 75%.

Whether Belarus to join the food counter-sanctions of Russia towards the EU? According to 65% of respondents — "No, it's the conflict between Russia and the EU, it does not concern Belarus."

Why, it would seem? If, according to Russian TV, Russian people in Donbass are a fair fight with the Ukrainian "punitive" and "fascists," and if the majority of Belarusians believes that, then why not help "the cause", why not to wait for him? Well, something like that. Without us.

It is also interesting to compare the responses of the three Nations on the question posed by sociologists in the current year — "whether the war between Russia and Ukraine?". In Russia poll of Levada-centre) Yes — 25% no — 65%), Ukraine (Kiev international Institute of sociology), Yes — 63% no -18%), in Belarus (IISEPS) Yes — 44% no — 46%). There is a fundamental difference between Belarusians from both neighbors.

The same and Lukashenko

In this sense, the maneuvering of President Alexander Lukashenko in the conflict quite accurately corresponds to the mass submissions. The level of approval of such policies is much higher than, say, the electoral rating of the head of state, the opposition criticized him for many things, but not for the policy towards Ukraine.

Why is public opinion, which seems to be for Russia in the conflict, not alienate the steps of the authorities towards Kiev, why the opposition, which like Ukraine, do not avert maneuvers in favor of Moscow? Because in fact there is a consensus — this is not our war. The confirmation of this consensus are the respondents ' answers to the question about attitude to the policy of the President in respect of Ukraine. The level of approval of this policy is much higher than the share of those who trust him and are willing to vote for him.

By the way, in April the Parliament of Belarus adopted, and in may entered into force amendments to the criminal code, supply a legal basis for the criminal prosecution of the citizens involved in the fighting in Ukraine on both sides of the front. Earlier they also tried to prosecute, to put pressure on the family, but in the UK was only an article about the crime. To prove it was difficult, and not all who fought and in fighting in the East of Ukraine, mercenaries. Now criminalized the mere fact of participation in hostilities regardless of the motive.

Russian actions in Ukraine (and actions supported by Russia) have caused many Belarusians, fear — and would they not be following?

However, as reported when discussing the amendments to the criminal code, the Minister of internal Affairs Igor Shunevich, regarding the participation in these actions had earlier filed 28 cases, involving 130 people. Well, it is a feature of the Belarusian law enforcement system: there is no article, as is already the case. Now, however, and the article is.

5 may for smuggling weapons and explosive devices in Belarus was sentenced to 5 years in prison fighter volunteer corps "Right sector" is a citizen of Belarus Taras Avatars.

Will Belarus next?

It is worth noting that the Russian actions in Ukraine (and actions supported by Russia) have caused many Belarusians concerns, not whether they will be next.

Here it is possible to refer to public discussions, and in the words of A. Lukashenko that "if you come here Putin, it is not known which side will fight Russian", and the fact that in the new military doctrine of the country, along with other threats appear and the "hybrid war". The Belarusian authorities, with all the negative attitude to NATO, never suspected the Alliance in the propensity to conduct such wars.

Well, the mood of public opinion appropriate in the polls about a quarter of the Belarusians claim that would be resisted by arms, "if Russia had tried by force to Annex the entire territory of Belarus or its part". In this case, curiously not even a number — not a man, but also considerable, and the fact that it almost exactly coincides with a share ready for armed resistance to a military invasion of NATO. There are neither cultural affinity nor invincible Russian TV somehow do not apply.

Remote indirect consequence of these concerns can be calculated, and the negative balance of assessments plans to place in Belarus a Russian military base. Who knows what the Russians will want to use this base?

Soviet Belarus and Soviet Russia

Speaking about the mechanisms of fear, should be divided into two. One classic, from the Pro-European part of Belarusian society. These people may even be present sentiment towards Russian culture, but in General they are against the actions of Russia for ideological reasons, because the conflict in Ukraine gave rise to the conflict of Russia with Europe and the West, but they are of Europe.

But there is another part, another mechanism — the Soviet. Belarusians in General remain far more Soviet people than the Russians. And rapid Nazarenes in Ukraine and Russia scares them by its obscurity.

If we talk about the position of the majority, then in his perception the two neighbors, if you like brothers, each in different crazy

In a recent conversation with one Russian expert I asked how in the Russian mass consciousness combined abstracts "Ukrainians — the same Russian" and Yarosh, "Right sector", Savchenko, independence, jumping under the slogans "hto not jumping — that Moskal". These people, too Russian for the Russians? "No," said the source. — For the mass consciousness of the Ukrainians-Russians — those that in the Donbass. And this Bandera, they used to sit at the West, then captured Kiev and went to war on Ukrainians-Russians in the Donbass". "Okay" I said, " and the nationality of these Bandera who?" "Yeah well I told You — Bandera" — with a laugh replied the expert.

Well, for the Belarusian majority with a Soviet mentality and "Bandera" — the Ukrainians and the Ukrainians in the Donbas Ukrainians.

Of course, in Belarus there are people who fully agree with either Russian or Ukrainian position, these are, in particular, those Belarusians who are fighting in the Donbass on both sides of the front. But if we talk about the position of the majority, then in his perception the two neighbors, if you like brothers, each different crazy. "Big brother", as being closer to the right in this conflict, but by and large, both are wrong.

Besides the recklessness of this "big brother" is, generally speaking, dangerous, and not only deeds, but also the fact that while on this drive, he doesn't know, and the more Belarusians don't know where put it down on this recklessness. And as if she didn't bring it to Belarus. So from this conflict it is better to stay away. In General, as if both of them regain the mind and how to reconcile — and they will be better, and Belarusians.

Yuri Drakakhrust



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