Out of six post-Soviet states in the EU-Russia
common neighborhood, Belarus remains the only one not mired in a territorial conflict. Yet the
personality of Lukashenko — with his dire reputation in the West and irremediable Soviet outlook —
performs a similar function of a conflict, in that it precludes the country's integration with the
EU and NATO. Just as the European aspirations of Armenia, for example, are hamstrung by the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, those of Belarus are made impossible by Lukashenko.
external support, the Belarusian opposition is unlikely to muster enough resources to dislodge
Lukashenko. Street protests can hardly overthrow an incumbent autocrat without the support of a part
of the elite and security services, which is missing in Belarus. Unlike Ukraine, Moldova, and
Georgia, Belarus lacks powerful oligarchs who possess the financial and media capacity to challenge
the country's leader. When fired by the president, Belarusian high-ranking officials do not
establish their own political parties or organize protest movements to blackmail their way back to
power. Instead, they feel relieved if Lukashenko allows them to quit state service peacefully,
instead of sending them to jail or to run a remote, loss-making state farm.
security structures spare no effort in spying on one another, but have never given grounds to doubt
their loyalty to Lukashenko. Even in the lean times of the mid-1990s, they respected the chain of
command and forcibly ejected dozens of MPs from the parliament building on presidential orders.
There is no reason to expect them to act differently now, when they have become one of the most
privileged and affluent groups of Belarusian society.