The “Piskorski case” goes to Belarus: Is Lukashenko provoking a Minsk Maidan?


December 14, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

Since mid-May 2016, the leader of the Polish party Zmiana, Mateusz Piskorski, has been in prison on charges of espionage on behalf of Russia and Iran[1]. These charges are far-fetched. As sources in Poland have reported, the real motive behind Piskorski’s arrest was Polish officialdom’s desire to pacify any risks to the NATO summit in Warsaw in July. The NATO summit is long over, but the main Polish fighter against NATO remains in prison. 

This version has been met with the strange coincidence of the arrest and trial of the leaders of the National Democrats party in Czech Republic, Adam Bartos and Ladislav Zemanek. In March of last year, they organized an effective protest against the American “Dragoon March” through the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. Although the Americans preach democratic values, they fight the enemies of “democracy” (NATO) with totalitarian, Soviet-like methods. Those carrying out the orders for repressions, the political and judicial authorities of NATO and EU countries, are controlled by the Americans and NATO. 

Last week, in neighboring Belarus, unexpected events took place which might be related to the fate of Mateusz Piskorski. 

Between December 4th and 6th, a delegation of Polish parliamentarians headed by the Marshal of the Polish Senate, Stanislaw Karczewski, visited Minsk. Belarusian President Lukashenko voiced a number of ritual words about the unity of Polish and Belarusian history, the political closeness of the two countries, etc. But the situation has a hot side: Poland is one of the bridgeheads for the activities of the anti-Lukashenko, pro-Western opposition. Poland has imposed sanctions on top Belarusian officials, including President Lukashenko himself. Just recently, Lukashenko was almost officially considered in the West to be the “last dictator in Europe,” and Polish authorities were in the forefront of the diplomatic struggle against him. 

Yet suddenly, a metamorphosis has happened. 

In the framework of the Eastern Partnership program, official Poland, which sees itself as the curator of the former Eastern European Soviet Republics, wants to pull Belarus out of Russia’s embrace. President Lukashenko is obviously fluctuating, hoping to gain political indulgence and loans from the West. Apparently, he sees Warsaw as the main advocate of Belarus in the European Union. There is nothing unexpected here. One time, the West (the US and EU) officially “forgave” another “dictator,” the leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Colonel Gaddafi. The southern neighbor of Belarus, Ukraine, also relied on Warsaw’s lobbying support after the 2014 Maidan coup. 

Another matter is just how justified these expectations are. For Libya, friendship with the West led to much worse consequences than the feud with the West. The country collapsed into a bloody civil war. Something similar, but on a more modest scale (for now?) is happening in Ukraine. But Lukashenko is an experienced politician and probably thinks that he can outwit the devil. 

The foreign-policy dance of the Belarusian president is a topic for another article. For now, let us turn our attention to the strange coincidence perhaps related to the “Piskorski case.”

Between December 6th and 9th, a number of arrests happened in Belarus. Three scholars and experts of a pro-Russian orientation were arrested. The most famous was Yuri Pavlovets, a young Belarusian political analyst. As is clear from the official statements of the Investigative Committee of Belarus (the prosecutor), they have been charged with cooperation with the Russian press and publishing articles therein criticizing Belarus for money. The three arrested have been charged with part one of article 130 of the Criminal code of Belarus on “inciting ethnic hatred.” According to reports from the Investigative Committee of Belarus, an expertise examination was held which found incitement to hatred in their articles published in the Russian press.

I have long been acquainted with the publications of these Belarusian authors and can confirm that their publications, in particular those of Yuri Pavlovets, were indeed critical towards the Belarusian authorities. But I can say that my own publications on the Russian government are often much more critical. Nevertheless, I am free, but Yuri Pavlovets is in custody. 

I have only one explanation or assumption concerning this case. Perhaps the coincidence between the visit of Polish officials and the arrest of pro-Russian scholars is apparent. Indeed, the Polish patriot Mateusz Piskorski and the arrested Belarusian authors have been charged with one and the same “crime”: pro-Russian views. The methods with which Warsaw and Minsk are fighting Russia’s Polish and Belarusian allies coincide. These methods are well known to those who are at least relatively familiar with the history of political repression in the USSR.

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What does President Lukashenko want to achieve with this repression? Does he want to appease Poland by fighting the anti-Western opposition, send a signal to the West, or something else? The coincidences in the goals and methods in the “Piskorski case” and the “Pavlovets case” are, in my opinion, obvious. Much less obvious are the consequences of such political repression in both countries. By declaring a hunt for its own allies, Belarus is in the least increasing the risk of a Minsk Maidan. 

[1] Note from J. Arnoldski: Although the Polish press has repeatedly claimed that Piskorski is charged with espionage for Russia, China, Iran, and/or Iraq (!), no formal charges have been presented and all of Piskorki’s hearings are kept secret from the public. 

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