Bakiyev Praised for the Bishkek Massacre and Offered Political Asylum in Belarus
Kurmanbek Bakiev, the ousted President of Kyrgystan, declined the offer of political asylum in Belarus. Speaking to his supporters in the south of his country Bakiyev shared his decision and the news that President Lukashenka was on his side. The Belarus president condemned the “anti-state and anti-constitutional coup d’état” as well as the Russian and United States policy towards the recent Kyrgyzstan events by calling it “very bad and shortsighted”.
At the same time, Lukashenka supported the use of firearms against the Kyrgyz opposition: “There is no reason to blame Bakiyev that the authorities used force to defend themselves. If the authorities cannot defend themselves and their people – what kind of authorities are those?”
Perhaps by “their people” he meant Bakiyev’s son Maksim widely known for embezzling state funds and leading lavish life in an impoverished Central Asian republic. “Their people” also meant other relatives Bakiyev put into key positions in Kyrgyzstan such as his brother Janysh Bakiyev who served as a high-ranked security official and reportedly ordered to open fire against the crowd.
Although Lukashenko has no brothers, he also has “his people” to take care of, including three sons. One of them, Victor Lukashenko, is already one of the most influential businessmen in Belarus and serves as his security adviser.
Bakiyev killed scores of demonstrators in Bishkek and still had to resign. Ironically, just a few years ago he was one of opposition demonstrators himself when the Tulip revolution brought him to power in 2005. “Strong” presidents is a curse not only for Belarus and Kyrgyzstan but for virtually all post-Soviet countries.
The exceptions are Ukraine and Moldova which are parliamentary republics. They are far from perfect, but at least there are no political killings or political prisoners. Authorities in those countries have to rely on the ballot box, not guns to defend themselves. Perhaps changing constitutions to get rid of strong presidential posts is something other countries in the region should seriously consider.
No Official Mourning In Belarus After Death of Kaczyński So Far
Today Belarus is the only country in the region that has not declared a day of national mourning following the death of the Polish president in a plane crash Apr. 10. Lithuania, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Russia have all declared mourning, and events in Lech Kaczynski’s memory will be held by the EU official bodies. Even Brazil and Canada have joined in. However, the Belarusian government has so far limited its reaction to a brief statement of condolences.
To the contrary, the Belarusian civil society is actively expressing its solidarity with Poland. Many people have come to the Polish embassy to lay flowers (see a photo report by Naša Niva), and the leaders of both the Orthodox and the Catholic Church in Belarus have held memorial services.
The Belarusian authorities did help Poland after the plane crash. An airplane with relatives of the victims of Saturday’s tragedy landed in the Viciebsk airport, and the Belarusian government provided the relatives of the victims with a visa-free entry into Belarus as well as a transportation means to Smolensk.
It seems that nothing more should be expected from the Belarusian officials. Poland was and remains an unfriendly country to Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s regime. After all, Warsaw actively supports the democratic opposition in Belarus and criticizes human rights violations and repressions against the Union of Poles of Belarus. In addition to that, the Polish state television sponsors independent Belarusian satellite TV channel Belsat.
Lech Kaczyński’s unwillingness to contact the Belarusian authorities could have been one of the reasons why the pilots of the Polish presidential plane refused to land in Minsk, neglecting the advice of the Russian dispatchers at Smolensk airport.
On the day of the funeral ceremonies, flags on official buildings in Germany will be lowered to half-mast. On Monday, the EU flags in front of the EU and EC buildings in Brussels, Strasbourg, as well as capitals of all the 27 EU states were lowered to half-mast in sign of mourning.
The Council of Europe has also declared Monday a day of mourning and lowered flags in front of its seat in Strasbourg. In front of NATO headquarters in Brussels, the Polish flag was hoisted half- mast since Saturday. On Monday, flags there were lowered by Lithuania, Estonia and Great Britain.
A number of countries declared national mourning. Among them are Brazil and Lithuania. which declared a three-day mourning. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Turkey will mourn the Polish president on the day of his funeral. Estonia, Ukraine, Spain, and Latvia have declared mourning on Monday. In Moldova, national mourning will be observed on Tuesday. Flowers were laid and candles were lit in front of the Polish mission in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.