Security Brief: EUCOM Week of August 2, 2021
Week of Monday, August 2, 2021 | Issue 43
Flavien Baumgartner, Vanessa Coimbra, EUCOM Team
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and the Polish Deputy Prime Minister, Piotr Gliński
Date: August 2, 2021
Location: Poland; Japan
Parties involved: Belarusian government; Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation; Tokyo’s Haneda Airport Police Department; International Olympic Committee; Polish government
The event: On Monday, August 2, 2021, Polish authorities granted a humanitarian visa to Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, after her team’s coaches forced her to return to Belarus following public complaints about the team’s management. Tsimanouskaya sought help from the Japanese police in Tokyo while also asking the International Olympic Committee to intervene on Sunday. The Belarusian activist group, Sport Solidarity Foundation, mediated the asylum request with several European countries, but Poland was the first to respond.
The implications: Why is this event good/bad? What are the results of this event? This can include a prediction(s).
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s public complaint will almost certainly increase public resentment over Lukashenko's rigid policies leading to new social clashes, representing an imminent risk of violence within the country. This asylum request will most likely trigger further protests from the European and international community against Lukashenko's autocratic regime. Over the last decade, Belarus has faced wide criticism due to the government’s persecution of political opponents. This has almost certainly led to extreme actions by the Belarusian government to control possible social uprisings, such as the hijacking of the Ryanair commercial airliner last May to arrest an anti-regime journalist. The media exposure this event received has likely increased the international leaders' focus on ongoing political repression and citizens’ rights violations.
As the country continues to target human rights activists, politicians, and professional athletes, the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation will likely strengthen the work done in cooperation with European countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany or Austria, to ease the granting of refugee status for persecuted individuals. This cooperation will almost certainly enable other organizations to intervene in Lukashenko’s regime without triggering conflicts over the country's sovereignty rights. However, recent events led to the application of economic sanctions by the EU as a protest, which will certainly push the country further away from Western values and will highly likely increase further relations with other countries such as Russia.
The support from European countries will almost certainly incite new sanctions. The asylum request secured by Poland will highly likely toughen diplomatic relations. International bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have also manifested their opposition by publicizing the non-recognition of Lukashenko's son as president of the Belarus Olympic Committee. This decision will almost certainly instigate international opinion against the Belarusian regime and create new asylum opportunities for other individuals.
Date: August 3, 2021
Parties involved: Ukrainian government; Belarus
The event: On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, Vitaly Shishov, a Belarusian citizen, was found hanged in a park near his home in Kyiv, Ukraine. Shishov was known for his anti-state activism and the current leader of a Kyiv-based organization that helps Belarusians prosecuted by Lukashenko’s government.
It is likely that Shishov’s death is related to the work that has been done in granting aid to opponents of the regime. Considering that Shishov's body was found outside Belarusian jurisdiction, this could highly likely represent new security threats for European countries that do not support Lukashenko. A possible Belarusian interference in other European sovereignties would represent a severe violation of European Community Law.
Despite international efforts to force Belarus to follow the European Union (EU) standards, it is unlikely a political shift would occur. President Lukashenko has strengthened alliances with Russia, a country that deliberately has anti-EU propaganda. Therefore the country is likely to receive support from Russia, either by discrediting or denying the State’s involvement in Vitaly Shishov's death. Russian financial and commercial support may also likely be given due to new economic sanctions imposed by the EU, increasing the former Soviet republics’ dependence.
Date: August 4, 2021
Parties involved: Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); Matteo Mecacci; Russian government
The event: On Wednesday, August 4, 2021, Matteo Mecacci, director of the OSCE, announced that the intergovernmental body will not send Election Observers to the next Russian elections in September due to the Kremlin’s government-imposed limitations. The number of allowed observers was restricted to 60 due to what authorities cited as the deteriorating pandemic situation. According to the presented restrictions, OSCE’s President Mecacci has decided to evaluate this process independently.
These restrictions on OSCE's assessment will highly likely instigate European institutions' mistrust of the Russian government's actions. The discontentment shown by Mecacci will almost certainly contribute to the growth of European citizens' disbelief in elections' transparency and will likely increase suspicions regarding the forthcoming results. The persistent difficulties imposed by the Kremlin will almost certainly increase the disapproval of European leaders for Russia's lack of respect for the EU institutions.
The OSCE's request for clarification regarding the Russian pandemic restrictions will likely be understood as a government's lack of cooperation, which reveals an autocratic approach to the electoral process. Parties and individuals who oppose Putin's regime will likely protest against the government's decision, widening political instability, increasing social unrest through the rise of internal security risks. However, it is likely that the election process will remain unaffected due to an effective campaign conducted by Russia to discredit European supra bodies through state media propaganda.
This event can also increase Russia's diplomatic impasse with Western countries, already motivated by the government's support of totalitarian regimes such as Hungary and Belarus, unlikely to allow Putin's regime to achieve a better understanding with other EU leaders. It is likely that political ties would be further strengthened with countries where EU skepticism is gradually growing, increasing pre-existing frictions.