>Belarus was a very Soviet republic. It now remains in its essence Soviet. Not only because the councils were preserved. A Soviet republic means an international republic, which carries out an appropriate social policy and so on. Belarus was designed to live in a united Soviet Union.
— Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus; statement made on NTV, on 15th anniversary of dissolution of USSR; as quoted in Telegraf, December 8, 2006
After many months of research we are resuming our “Red World” list of communist states. Over the next few days we will be featuring the Not-So-Former Soviet Union, otherwise known as the Commonwealth of Independent States. For previous country lists see the following months in our archives: Africa, March; Asia, May; and Western Europe, July.
Republic of Belarus
Constituent republic of USSR: December 30, 1922-August 25, 1991
Previous names: Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, January 1, 1919- September 19, 1991 (use of this name allowed until 1993)
Type of state: “Post”-communist “nonpartisan” dictatorship under covert control of restored/continuing CPSU
Neo-communist renewal: “Collapse of communism,” 1991
Neo-communist re-renewal: President Lukashenko (pictured above) dissolved the 13th Supreme Soviet in the wake of the November 1996 referendum. The national legislature, which was elected in the previous year, had impeached the president.
1) Communist Party of Belarus in coalition with other pro-Lukashenko parties and nonpartisans: 1996-present
2) Party of Communists of Belarus (formerly Communist Party of Byelorussia, anti-Lukashenko): 1991-1996
3) Communist Party of Byelorussia (Byelorussian section of CPSU): 1990-1991
4) Communist Party of Byelorussia (Byelorussian section of CPSU), sole legal party: 1919-1990
5) Lithuanian-Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, unrecognized government under leadership of Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Lithuania and Belorussia, revolutionary leaders Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas and Kazimierz Cichowski, and Soviet military occupation: 1919
Communist Bloc memberships: Union (or United State) of Russia and Belarus, Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Eurasian Economic Community
Socialist International presence: Belarusian Social Democratic Party-People’s Assembly (unregistered)
Ethnic Russian composition: 11.4%
Presidents of “post”-communist Belarus (1994-present):
1) Alexander Lukashenko (“ex”-CPSU, Communists for Democracy, Belarusian Patriotic Movement/Party, “nonpartisan”; ex-Soviet apparatchik): July 20, 1994-present
Chairs of Supreme Soviet in “post”-communist Belarus (1991-1994):
1) Myechyslau Hryb (“nonpartisan”): January 28-July 20, 1994
2) Vyacheslav Kuznyetsov (“nonpartisan”): January 26-28, 1994 (acting)
3) Stanislav Shushkyevich (“ex”-CPSU, “nonpartisan”; Chair, Supreme Soviet, Byelorussian SSR): September 18, 1991-January 26, 1994
Prime ministers of “post”-communist Belarus:
1) Sergei Sidorsky (communist affiliation undetermined): December 26, 2003-present
2) Gennady Novitsky (“ex”-CPSU): October 10, 2001-July 10, 2003
3) Vladimir Yermoshin: March 14, 2000-September 21, 2001
4) Syargey Ling (“ex”-CPSU): February 19, 1997-February 18, 2000
5) Mikhail Chigir: July 22, 1994-November 18, 1996
6) Vyacheslav Kebich (“ex”-CPSU, Party of Communists of Belarus): January 1, 1990-August 1, 1994
Resumes of “ex”-communists in current Council of Ministers:
1) Ivan Bambiza (“ex”-CPSU, Minsk High Party School): Deputy Prime Minister
2) Viktor Burya (“ex”-CPSU): Deputy Prime Minister
3) Andre Kobyakov (“ex”-CPSU): Deputy Prime Minister
4) Alexander Kosinets (Komsomol): Deputy Prime Minister
5) Vladimir Ilich Semashko (ex-Soviet Army): First Deputy Prime Minister
Parliament of “post”-communist Belarus: Bicameral National Assembly consisting of 110-member House of Representatives and 64-member Council of the Republic: 1996-present
Soviet-era parliament: Supreme Soviet (Supreme Council); constitutional parliament until 1996
Communist parties of “post”-communist Belarus:
1) All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (VKP-B): The VKP-B is the Belarusian section of VKP-B, which associates with MLKP.
2) Belarusian Republican Movement “For the Union [of Russia and Belarus] and the Communist Party of the Union”: Founded in 2001, this Stalinist party associates with the CPSU (Shenin, 2001).
3) Party of Communists of Belarus (PKB): The “anti”-Lukashenko PKB is the successor of the Communist Party of Byelorussia. After the party was “banned” in August 1991, Belarusian communists regrouped and formed the PKB, which registered in December 1991. The Supreme Soviet of Belarus lifted the “ban” against the PKB in February 1993. The party operates under the leadership of Sergei Kalyakin. The PKB contends that it was the subject of a false report, published on July 15, 2006 by the Belarusian KGB, alleging a merger with the pro-Lukashenko Communist Party of Belarus. The PKB website has not been active since June 6, 2006. Having failed to absorb this rival communist party, the Lukashenko regime is endeavoring to suppress the PKB altogether. The Supreme Court of Belarus is presently threatening to suspend the PKB’s activities for failing to properly register (Charter 97, November 15, 2006). The youth wing of the PKB is the Lenin Communist Union of Youth.
4) Communist Party of Belarus (KPB): Founded in 1996 as a split from the anti-Lukashenko Party of Communists of Belarus, the pro-Lukashenko KBP operates under the leadership of Viktor Chikin, and associates with the UCP-CPSU. Chikin is also deputy head, or deputy mayor, of the Minsk City Executive Committee. The manager of the KPB Central Committee is Leonid Shkolnikov, who is also head of the Belarusian section of the restored CPSU, which operates under the leadership of Oleg Shenin, and deputy head of the Republic of Belarus National Emergency Management and Response Centre.
5) Marxist-Leninist Union of Communists (MLKP): The MLKP was founded in 1994.
6) Movement for Democracy, Social Progress, and Justice: Founded in 1991, this Stalinist alliance is dominated by the pro-Lukashenko Communist Party of Belarus.
7) Red Flag Organization: This radical left party was founded in 1995.
8) Revolutionary Justice Party: Founded in 1997, this Trotskyist party affiliates with International Workers’ Unity.
9) Revolutionary Party of Communists (RPK): Founded in 2000 by the Fighting Proletarian Union, the RPK is the Belarusian section of the Russian Communist Workers’ Party-Revolutionary Party of Communists.
10) Workers’ Democracy: This Trotskyist party is the Belarusian section of Russian Workers’ Democracy.
Parties that are loyal to President Lukashenko:
1) Agrarian Party of Belarus: The rural wing of the Communist Party of Belarus.
2) Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party
3) Communist Party of Belarus
4) Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus (LDPB): The LDPB associates with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (formerly Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union) under the leadership of suspected KGB agent Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
5) Republican Party of Labor and Justice: This social democratic party was founded in 1993.
Youth organizations that are loyal to President Lukashenko:
1) The Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) was formed in 2002 through a merger of the Belarusian Patriotic Youth Union and the Belarusian Youth Union. The former was created in 1997 by President Lukashenko, while the latter was the legal successor of the Byelorussian section of the old CPSU Young Communist League (Komsomol). — While the BRSM does not openly involve itself with politics, Mikhail Orda, First Secretary of the BRSM Central Committee, signed a letter along with other public officials denouncing the anti-Lukashenko Belarus Democracy Act passed by the United States Congress in 2004. Representatives from the BRSM are allowed to attend meetings of various government ministries and committees. The BRSM operates a radio station called Radio Stil (Style Radio, 101.2 FM), which began broadcasting in June 1998. It is the only youth group in Belarus that has been given permission to operate a radio station. — On September 19, 2005 President Lukashenko met with Orda, to be informed of the preparations for the 39th BRSM congress on September 23, as well as the 85th anniversary of the Belarusian section of the Komsomol. Anti-Lukashenko activists call the BRSM “Lukamol,” derisively combining the names Lukashenko and Komsomol.
Parties that are opposed to President Lukashenko:
1) People’s Coalition 5 Plus: This coalition consists of the anti-Lukashenko Party of Communists of Belarus, Belarusian Labor Party, Belarusian People’s Front, Belarusian Social Democratic Party-Assembly (BSDP-H), and United Civil Party of Belarus. The pro-communist Belarusian People’s Front (BNF) was organized in October 1988 by members of the Byelorussian intelligentsia, including Zianon Pazniak, Vasil Bykaŭ, and Michaś Dubianiecki. The current leader of the BNF is Vincuk Viačorka. In 2004 some members of the unregistered Belarusian Social Democratic Party-People’s Assembly formed and registered a new party, Belarusian Social Democratic Party-Assembly, which is part of the People’s Coalition. On July 13, 2006 Alexander Kazulin, head of the BSDP-H and rector of Belarusian State University between 1996 and 2003, was sentenced to jail for five and a half years for his role in the March anti-Lukashenko protests.
2) Democratic Centrist Coalition: This coalition consists of Republic, Young Belarus, European Coalition Free Belarus, Belarusian Social Democratic Party-People’s Assembly (BSDP-NH), and Belarusian Women’s Party Hope. The unregistered BSDP-NH holds membership in the Socialist International.
3) Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian People’s Front (KKP-BNF): The KKP-BNF split from the Belarusian People’s Front in 1999 and operates under the leadership of Zianon Pazniak.
4) Social Democratic Party of Popular Accord
Russian military presence: Prior to the “collapse” of the Soviet Union in 1991, 180,000 Soviet soldiers were stationed in the Byelorussian Military District. Two years later 40,000 troops of the Russian Air Force were still stationed in Belarus. Most of these troops were involved in the maintenance of the 72 strategic nuclear missiles based at Lida and Mazyr, which were scheduled to depart Belarus in 1995, the deadline for returning all nuclear weapons to Russia. The last SS-25 was transferred to Russia in November 1997. All other Russian troops were withdrawn in June 1997. — In October 1994 the Russian government announced that two conventional military installations would remain in Belarus. Although Belarus has since formed its own army, the bulk of its officer corps were at that time ethnic Russians. The drawdown of troops from 1993 to 1995 included a downsizing in the number of officers, which translated into fewer ethnic Russian generals. — On February 22, 1995 Russia and Belarus were united in the Union of Russia and Belarus, or United State of Russia and Belarus, which effectively eliminated the border between the two countries and permitted the future legal redeployment of Russian troops in Belarus as needed. — As a result, the Russian General Staff has formed a heavily militarized defense zone that includes western Russia, the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, and Belarus, the purpose of which is to counter the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe. The union’s Treaty of Creation was signed on December 8, 1999, with the intention of eventually establishing a common constitution, citizenship, president, parliament, armed forces, and currency, as well as common symbols such as flag and anthem. — In October 2005 the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense announced that the air defense systems of Russia and Belarus would be integrated and that S-300 anti-aircraft systems would be deployed to the smaller country. One year later, in October 2006, four such anti-aircraft systems were deployed and put into service in Belarus, in part, to counter the shipment of US-made F-16 fighter jets to neighboring Poland. — In June 2006 the two countries held Union Shield 2006, the largest joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise since the “collapse” of communism. More than 8,800 troops participated. Hardware included six Belarusian helicopters and 23 combat planes, six Russian helicopters and 13 warplanes, as well as 40 tanks, 180 armored infantry carriers, 140 anti-tank guided missiles, and 30 multiple-launch rocket systems. According to Russian officials, the objective of the exercise was to showcase the operability of the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s joint command. In the fall of 2008 Belarusian forces joined Russian counterparts in the massive Stability-2008 strategic war game that included elements of civilian mobilization. — Like the Russian Armed Forces, which restored the red star of Bolshevism as its symbol, the Belarusian Armed Forces proudly display this communist emblem.
President Lukashenko’s Commitment to Communism
President Lukashenko’s commitment to communism is evident in his selection of communists for his cabinet, his attendance at conclaves of Soviet communists, and his public pronouncements. In March 1997 he welcomed 1,000 delegates to Minsk for the Third Congress of the Peoples of the USSR. In attendance were Oleg Shenin (then leader of the continuing Communist Party of the Soviet Union, known as the Union of Communist Parties-CPSU), Gennady Zyuganov (leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation), and other leading Soviet communists such as Nikolai Ryzhkov, Yegor Ligachev, Nina Andreeva, Valentin Varennikov, Albert Makashov, Stanislav Terekhov, and Viktor Anpilov. The March 16, 1997 issue of Interfax reports that:
Despite factional differences which erupted at times, the participants unanimously called for canceling the December 1991 agreements that established the CIS and for voluntary unification of the peoples in a “renewed USSR” on the basis of “socialism and people’s power.” Speakers and the final resolutions described Lukashenko’s policies as a model to follow in terms of uniting two Slavic states as a prelude to restoring the former Union. Lukashenko addressed the forum to repeated standing ovations.
In 2004 the Center for the Study of Global Change at Indiana University stated regarding Belarus: “The Communist Party remains a leading political force in the country. Economically, the nation has not made significant movements in the transition from a socialist to a free market economy.”
Following his second re-election to the presidency of Belarus on March 19, 2006, President Lukashenko hinted that he would support a new pro-presidential party that included the country’s political elite. While he admitted that the Communist Party of Belarus had not always produced the desired results, Lukashenko stated: “However, the party has focused on strategic issues and its positive role cannot be underestimated” (Novosti, May 23, 2006).
On the occasion of the 89th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, November 7, 2006, President Lukashenko praised his countrymen for faithfully fulfilling the mandate of the “Great October Socialist Revolution”:
Dear compatriots, I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to you on the Day of the October Revolution. 89 years ago an event happened that gave the workers of our country release from poverty and unlawfulness and that had a big influence on lives of people across the planet. For Belarus, that event was important because it created real opportunities for independent statehood. The Great October encouraged the grass-roots to realize their creative potential which had been overlooked. The society united seeking to build a free state which would be worthy of respect. The enthusiasm and selflessness of the masses turned into spectacular achievements of the huge country.
Today our country is celebrating that event in the atmosphere of political stability, lasting civil peace and dynamic economic and socio-cultural development. Dear countrymen, I wish you health, happiness, well being and success in everything you do for the benefit of our Belarus (source: Belarusian Telegraph Agency).
As a result of Lukashenko’s unreformed Soviet communism, many international observers consider “post”-communist Belarus, along with Turkmenistan, another “ex”-Soviet republic, to be one of the most repressive regimes in the world.
The Russian-Belarusian-Cuban- Venezuelan Strategic Alliance
Lukashenko’s commitment to communism in foreign relations was evident on the occasion of self-avowed socialist revolutionary Hugo Chavez’s second re-election to the presidency of Venezuela on December 3, 2006:
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has congratulated Hugo Chavez on being re-elected president of Venezuela for a new term, the presidential press-service told BelTA. Alexander Lukashenko has expressed confidence that Hugo Chavez will continue pursuing a course towards independence of Venezuela, will continue taking wise decisions concerning economic and political development of his country and will do everything possible to provide every citizen with the quality of life he/she is worth of (source: Belarusian Telegraph Agency).
A close ideological affinity exists between the governments of Belarus and Venezuela. In July 2006 President Chavez visited Belarus and in September a delegation from the Belarusian government visited the South American country. During that meeting the two governments declared that they were establishing an anti-American strategic alliance to complement the Russian-Venezuelan alliance that was formed in May 2001. “It is vital to defend the homeland to counter external and internal threats to national projects that imperialists are worried about because they are successful,” Comrade Hugo intoned, referring to Washington DC. “They are trying to impose on us an alien ideology and morals, pseudo-economic reforms resulting in the population growing poor for the sake of a bunch of fat cats,” Comrade Alex agreed, also referring to the USA. The two states are negotiating joint oil production. In addition, Belarus intends to export potash fertilizers and agricultural equipment to Venezuela and import phosphate fertilizers from the same.
The Russian-Venezuelan alliance, it should be noted, includes the delivery of 100,000 Kalishnikov rifles, 24 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, 53 helicopters to the Bolivarian Republic, as well as pilot training, which would entail, one might reasonably expect, the presence of Russian military personnel in Venezuela. Russia will also coordinate the construction of a Kalishnikov rifle assembly plant in the South American country. More ominously, Joseph Douglass, writing 15 years ago in Red Cocaine, observes that the Cuban General Intelligence Directorate (DGI) fell under the sway of the KGB more than 20 years before. In turn, Venezuelan intelligence has fallen under the sway of the DGI. Writing in FrontPage Magazine, Paul Crespo reports: “The partnership [with Cuba] is so close that Venezuela’s intelligence and security service, known as DISIP, reportedly has come under control of the Cuban intelligence service, the DGI. Because of this, US intelligence agencies have ended their longstanding liaison relationships with their Venezuelan counterparts. Hundreds of Cuban advisors, coordinated by Cuba’s military attache in Caracas, are also in charge of the elite presidential guard who defend Chavez against potential coups or military unrest.” That being so, can one conclude that the FSB/SVR now controls Venezuelan intelligence? Truly, a frightening prospect for neighboring pro-Washington Colombia in particular and the Western Hemisphere in general.