Subject: RE 2006-#76-Johnson's Russia List -- Item 38 Re Mr. Lukashenka
From: Ethan Burger <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006
The David Johnson Russia List provides a real service to the Russian studies community by providing a wide range of opinions about events in the former Soviet space. A friend of mine from Minsk upon reading Item 38 was troubled that some of your less informed readers may accept at face value certain statements and representations that were made. The refusal of many educated individuals to express their own opinions in Belarus out of fear of retribution is indicative of something other than mass paranoia. I do not have harbor such concerns within the U.S. borders.
1. If Mr. Lukashenka is not afraid to answer any questions from the media, why were no opposition journalists allowed during his carefully pre-screened, post-election press conference?
2. Why did Mr. Lukashenka refuse to debate openly with Milinkevich?
3. Is it conceivable that Belarusian public perception of the situation in the country might be different if of the 300 independent newspapers that operated in the country at various times more than 1 remains? I note that the situation is even more extreme with respect to domestic radio and television.
4. Why did Mr. Lukashenka personally authorize or permit his overzealous subordinates to beat journalists (and in some cases deport them)?
5. If the country is so calm and Mr. Lukashenka enjoys in excess of the support of 75% of the population, why does Belarus have the largest police force per capita in all of Eurasia? Certainly not to defend him from passionate supporters.
Since most of your readers are well-informed individuals, I would think they would be skeptical about the information presented in Item #38.
Ethan S. Burger
School of International Service
Adjunct Associate Professor
Washington College of Law
Washington, D.C. 20016