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Subject: Belarus
YelliChink    12/29/2010 11:03:48 AM
The current state of relation between Belarus and Russia is, well, detrimental. Ostensibly, Medvedev and Putin are putting pressure on the c_cksuckers in Minsk to conduct reform. It's like a fox telling a weasel to be vegen. They are up to something, and I suspect something will happen soon if the West does nothing, and you won't like the end result of it.
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WarNerd       1/1/2011 2:20:17 PM

They are up to something, and I suspect something will happen soon if the West does nothing, and you won't like the end result of it.

Would you care to be a little more specific?
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Lance Blade    Gazprom lolz   1/8/2011 5:02:56 PM
The Russians are after Belarus's pipelines. Which is not exactly surprising, given that neither Nord Stream nor South Stream are anywhere near ready and Ukraine's shown they can be rather bad and disruptive for business at the most inconvenient times. Lukashenko meanwhile, also isn't exactly reliable: he tends to do whatever he wants and balances between Moscow and the West to curry favour. 

...long ago, back in the 90s, Yeltsin and Lukashenko signed a treaty creating the Union of Russia and Belarus, and for a while things went fairly far in that direction: there was talk of a single currency, open borders and upon complete absorption of Belarus into Russia, Lukashenko would conveniently replace Yeltsin as President of the now united federation. However, suddenly the clan realised they'd rather actually keep Russia for themselves, thank you very much, and put Putin in charge instead. He succeeded in stalling the negotiations in around 2003; however, this presented a problem. Since Belarus was technically independent, nobody could just tell it what to do, and since it was a gas transit country, this put Lukashenko into quite a good position to get favours from the Kremlin. 

So since then the focus has been on getting Belarus into the newly formed free trade zone with Russia and Kazakhstan (kinda like a mini-EU). Lukashenko dug his heels in for years, but since no-one in Europe would be friends with him (being the last dictator in Europe doesn't impress the West) he could only really rely on Russia for political support. Knowing this, Gazprom provoked him over and over again, and it all culminated in Russian state TV running quite scandalous documentaries showing what everyone already knew: that Lukashenko was a corrupt thug. But people talking about it on the street was one thing; Russia's national TV doing it at the behest of the Russian government was something completely different. Lukashenko fell into a bout of paranoia seeing a new Orange Revolution, and of course cracked down on dissent like never before. Since this completely alienated Europe to him, he needed Russia more than ever - so right after the elections Parliament signs the treaty bringing Belarus into the new free-trade bloc. 

Seeing as about 80% of Belarus's economy is in state hands (as opposed to around 5-10% in Russia), and one of the key tenets of free trade is a large private sector, expect to see a forced sell-off of strategic assets bought up by Russian conglomerates. Afaik they're pushing something similar in Ukraine: Gazprom has been trying to legally seize their gas arteries for years. Gazprom gets the pipelines: they call the shots, annoying little countries can't order them around any more, Europe is safe and sound from gas shortages, everybody's happy. Maybe except the ordinary Belarussian. But generally no-one important tends to care about them common citizens. 
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