It probably seemed funny at the time. According to the Associated Press: The Swedish Foreign Ministry says it is sending a diplomat to Belarus after its ambassador was expelled last year following a Swedish advertising agency’s stunt air-drop of hundreds of teddy bears into the former Soviet state. … Belarus did not officially cite the [...]
It is also important to remember that in almost every state of the former Soviet Union, there are large portions of the population who would gladly return to the USSR — this video is aimed at them.
A hard government need not have a poor economy. It is a testament to Lukashenko and his cronies that they can neither manage functional democracy nor economic growth.
The cost of this increasingly intimate embrace with Moscow has been, and continues to be in the future, economic disaster for the dictatorship of Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Countries in Central and Eastern Europe are well-positioned to benefit from a new wave of outsourcing and datacenter development. Over time the former Soviet states could create their own mini-Silicon Valleys.
It will take nothing short of a popular uprising to loosen Lukashenko’s grip on power. In the meantime, the United States and Europe should impose stronger sanctions on Minsk, and step up public support for pro-democracy groups in the country.
Increased attention to repression in Belarus is welcome. We can only hope that some day the people of Belarus will enjoy their own “Arab Spring.”
The nations inhabiting the former Soviet space have to ask themselves whether the benefits of joining a Russian-dominated common area will outweigh the costs in terms of lost market flexibility outside the union and the loss of foreign policy discretion.
Economic turmoil throughout Europe is having an impact on the east. This could make 2012 an even more challenging year for all of Europe as it continues to struggle to contain the economic and political ramifications of the Euro crisis.
Whether this turns into something (slightly) larger or not is yet to be seen. The larger question is not so much how Belarus blunders (that it will blunder is a given), but rather how the European Union reacts.