MOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko underestimates the seriousness of the protests that continue in the republic since August, says Institute of the CIS Studies deputy director Vladimir Zharikhin.
"Lukashenko does not fully realize the seriousness of the situation and the seriousness of internal impulses for mass protests. Belarusian authorities made mistakes, and created this crisis situation with their own hands. The statements that the Poles and the Lithuanians have invented it are unjust. There were serious problems, which the Russian authorities point out," he said.
According to the expert, the recent visit of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) head Sergey Naryshkin to Minsk was a Moscow’s attempt to explain the real situation to the Belarusian leader.
"I think Naryshkin visited Minsk for a reason. Clearly, he was told to explain the real situation to Alexander Grigorievich [Lukashenko] in private - the situation where he is, and which he clearly underestimates," Zharikhin said.
The political scientist pointed out that the Belarusian authorities resort to excessively harsh measures towards the opposition and its supporters.
"And they overdo this harshness and underestimate the real situation now. This harshness may lead to a new escalation, especially considering that [Lukashenko] clearly seeks to blur the promised constitutional reform and snap elections," he added.
The analyst pointed out that the external forces, which previously influenced the situation in the republic are "preoccupied" now.
"The US decides: Trump or Biden. Europe is counting covid beds. Poland has very serious unrest of its own. In this situation, everything indeed fades. But still, Belarusian authorities should have in mind that these mass opposition rallies were not caused from the outside alone. There were serious internal reasons, and without the overdue reforms, they will tend to repeat," he concluded.
Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police. The current unrest is being cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests. In response, the Belarusian authorities have castigated the ongoing turmoil and demanded that these unauthorized demonstrations be stopped.