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03:52 GMT +3 hours20 December 2014
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Russia

RUSSIA LOSES CHANCE TO INFLUENCE BELARUS SITUATION

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MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - When it comes to its Belarussian agenda, Russia only deals with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. With the recent run on revolutions in the CIS, if Belarus decides to follow suit, Moscow will be rendered ineffective because it has failed to create stronger ties, said Alexander Rahr, director for Russian and CIS affairs at the German Foreign Policy Council, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a daily, reported.

According to Rahr, there are many possibilities for cooperation without spiting Lukashenko, with pro-Russian forces in Belarus that want to promote European values in the republic, but are against it joining NATO. However, Russia fears relying even on pro-Russian centrist forces in Belarus, thinking that this could lead to Russia's geopolitical defeat.

Rahr said Lukashenko's behavior resembled that of a Central Asian autocratic leader. But Central Asian republics have oil and gas, which they can sell to the West and spare their leaders. Lukashenko has nothing with which to buy Western sympathy or condescension.

The Belarussian opposition has established political contacts with the outside world and Lukashenko's authoritarian policy has helped it to rally. Several years ago, the opposition was mostly a dissident group, but now it is increasingly becoming a political opposition challenging the authorities.

Lukashenko is losing Russia's support, Rahr said, by hindering integration and making mistakes in economic cooperation. The events in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where desperation provoked by social and economic hardships forced the people to protest openly, are also possible in Belarus.

Russia and the European Union should not export revolutions, but encourage evolutionary development. This means that they should find a common language and lay out on a common strategy for Belarus, Rahr said.