After years of authoritarian stability ensured by the hardline rule of President of Alexander Lukashenka, Belarus enters the new stage in its post-Communist history. Phasing out of Russia’s generous energy subsidies that used to create a backbone of the economic stability of Lukashenka’s regime brought to the end to the reform-free period in the Belarusian history.
As Lukashenka’s government has had to search for new solutions to secure economic and political stability other than reliance on Russian subsidies and sustaining the unreformed command economy, the Belarusian politics, society, economy, and foreign relations of the country are all being transformed.
However, given the Russia’s re-emerging interest in building close ties to Belarus; Lukashenka’s unwillingness to authorize too profound reforms for political reasons; regime’s ability to offer a new “social contract” to the population and incorporate some parts of the opposition; the deep internal crisis in the opposition; and the remaining lack of a coherent EU policy towards Belarus, it is more likely that this new transition will return another, though possibly kinder and gentler, form of authoritarianism, whereas prospects for a democratic transformation in Belarus remain dim.
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