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So, ladies and gents, Russia’s “blame-shifting” operation in Belarus can be considered complete. It aimed to conceal Russia’s intentions to absorb Belarus through puppet opposition and bloody crackdowns on street protests and claim it was all the evil plot by a flock of external forces — the United States, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine.
Russia media are all diligently quoting the chief of their Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, who claimed a “clear” Western trace behind Belarus protests.
Naryshkin said the West had begun plotting protests long before the August elections; The United States had allegedly sent at least $20 million dollars to organize rallies, also forming a network of “independent” bloggers and accounts on social networks and providing training to Belarusian activists abroad — in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, etc.
What’s most interesting though, SVR chief says Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has been under “tight guardianship” of the United States.
Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko spoke up practically simultaneously with Mr Naryshkin, claiming the West had been plotting the election protest scenario for a decade, and branding Ukraine an outpost for political provocations against the Republic.
Actually, there’s nothing surprising in once again seeing Russia shifting blame for its own crimes onto those who have absolutely nothing to do with them. It’s a shame though that this time not only did Ukraine fail to hamper the Russian game, in a certain sense Ukraine played along with it’s hybrid antagonists, letting Belarusian pseudo-opposition figures into Ukraine and allowing them to relay Kremlin narratives from the neighboring state’s information platforms.
In fact, Western powers which traditionally supported the opposition, made a similar mistake, especially relevant in relation to countries with an autocratic, dictatorial form of government.
However, neither Russia’s top political spy neither Naryshkin nor Alexander Lukashenko, echoing him like a hungry parrot, presented any evidence of any Western involvement in Belarusian chaos, other than unfounded allegations. Empty talk will never beat facts. And facts testify to opposite things.
The Belarusian opposition, whicho Naryshkin says has been funded and handled by the U.S., by a strange coincidence, is completely affiliated with the Russian side. Viktor Babariko’s election campaign was essentially funded by Gazprom; Svetlana Tikhonovskaya’s husband, Sergei, and later herself, were served by Russian PR experts from the GRU entourage, as well as by Alisher Usmanov’s media networks; Valery Tsepkalo fled from totalitarian Belarus in the very first days to what he apparently sees as “democratic” Russia, where he lay low for almost two weeks, while his wife was urging Putin to side with protesters, which would thereby perpetuate him as national hero of all Belarusians.
At the same time, almost all Belarusian “opposition” figures are unanimous in their mantras about the alliance with Russia and respect for Putin. Also, they fail to grasp the idea of Crimea being part of Ukraine occupied by Russia, and that there is no civil war but Russian invasion observed in Donbas. Had these guys indeed been sponsored by the United States, they would stand firm against a Union State with Russia, see Putin a war criminal, and voice a common, unambiguous position on Crimea grab and war in Donbas… But they don’t.
As for the claim about the training of activists and setting up information platforms under the auspices of the Western powers, then by a very strange circumstance, almost the entire bulk of social network accounts supporting Belarus protests are affiliated with the Russian GRU. Also, Russia deployed in Belarus to cover the unrest its journalists, known for their reporting from the Donbas warzone in the midst of the Russian invasion, as well as provocateurs, more than once detained by the Belarusian security operatives right up to the moment when Lukashenko sharply flipped eastward, seeking aid from Putin.
Besides, it’s hard not to mention those 33 mercenaries with the Wagner PMC, detained near Minsk late July, who had come to Belarus to catalyze protests through bloody provocations and sabotage. It was Russian saboteurs, not Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian or American ones, who plotted to shed blood in Belarusian streets.
So it’s actually difficult to find a reasonable backing to any of SVR chief’s claims, but his statement does complete the blame-shifting operation. Indeed, within their information space, which for Russia is not limited by its borders, while also covering Belarus and other countries where the Russian propaganda machine broadcasts in multiple shapes and forms and where some pro-Russian audiences are available, the Kremlin puts everything as “clear” as possible — it’s the West that’s been destabilizing Belarus. The rest is not even being discussed…