The national identity of Belarus is even weaker than that of Ukraine. The area that is now known as the Republic of Belarus was in the earlier centuries merely considered the borderland between the Polish and Russian empire, those belonging to the Uniate Church, a subsidiary of the Roman Catholic Church, within this region thought of themselves as Polish and those who belonged to the Orthodox Church considered themselves Russian. In 1839 the supreme clerics of the Uniate Church in Belarus shifted to the Orthodox Church voluntarily and most of the public followed them. Belarusian nationalism arose only at the end of the nineteenth century (Ioffe, 2003). 58% of Belarusians report speaking the Russian language at home (Ioffe, 2003).
In 2001, the US embassy in Minsk headed by the ambassador Michael Kozak, launched a campaign to remove the pro-Russia President Alexander Lukashenka from office, this involved funneling money to non-governmental organizations opposed to Lukashenka, the creation of an anti-Lukashenka youth group named ‘Zubr’ and Radio Free Europe broadcasts airing anti-Lukashenka propaganda. Opposition figures coalesced around Vladimir Goncharik, an elderly former trade unionist, allegedly on US orders, but still lost the election to Lukashenka (Traynor, 2001). On October 20, 2004, following a referendum in Belarus that removed term limits for the office of the Belarusian President, President Bush signed the Belarus Democracy act to fund opposition movements in Belarus, (usinfo.state.gov, 2004).
The failure to spark a pro-western revolution in Belarus has many possible causes. One of these is the weakness of Belarusian nation identity mentioned above, an other reason is that Belarus is a strictly authoritarian country (Letain, 2006), a great number of strictures are placed in the activities of non-governmental organizations which are the western power’s primary tool in achieving their policy objectives with respect to the former communist states (Almond, 2004). A third reason is that the people of Belarus fear instability and civil war much more than the people of Ukraine and Lukashenka is supported by a large number of Belarusians because of the political stability he brings to the country (Shmelev, 2005) (BBC, 2007).
Can a pro-Western revolution be sparked in Russia itself? According to Russian political commentator Dmitry Savvin, an Orange Revolution style regime change can only occur in ‘Satellite nations’ like Ukraine, which can shift their ‘center of civilization’ from one pole to another. Since Russia is itself a ‘center of civilization’ based on Orthodox Christianity, such a shift cannot occur there (Goble, 2009).
In countries like Ukraine and Belarus, located between two poles of power, if the establishment is under the patronage of one superpower, disaffected forces gather under the support of the other superpower, then there follows a period of uncertainty and instability during which if the incumbent appears to be stronger than the opposition, the elite remain on his side and the crisis is averted, however if the incumbent is seen as weak, the elite’s support quickly shifts over to the ‘revolutionaries’ and a ‘Democratic Revolution’ occurs.
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