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13 Apr, 2021 13:29

I came, Warsaw, I conquered! Belarusian MP says Poland wants to subjugate his country two centuries since collapse of empire

I came, Warsaw, I conquered! Belarusian MP says Poland wants to subjugate his country two centuries since collapse of empire

One of Minsk’s most controversial lawmakers, who previously claimed opposition protests were part of a foreign plot, now insists that neighboring Poland is intent on taking back Belarus in a bid to revive its former Commonwealth.

Andrey Savinykh, a deputy in the country’s House of Representatives and Chairman of the International Affairs Commission, said on Sunday that its old imperial overlord once again had ambitions for conquest in Europe.

“Tolerance, and a multicultural philosophy, are inherent in Belarusians,” he claimed, “hence the conflict with the Poles. Poland would like to see us not as a multicultural, multinational nation but part of Polish hegemony, speaking Polish and becoming mostly Catholic.”

According to the MP, Warsaw still upholds its status as a “land power” and is keen to assimilate the territories it lost after the fall of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which included much of modern-day Belarus. The EU state, he claimed, “remakes the population that falls into its zone of influence as its own.”

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was one of Europe’s most advanced political unions throughout most of the 17th century, with territory now controlled by Moscow and Ukraine falling under its control. It was characterized, at least initially, by its multi-ethnic population and, while nominally Catholic, also encompassed many Orthodox believers. However, Polish remained the language of the state and the judiciary, and proficiency in its use was a symbol of status.

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Savinykh also claimed that recent restrictions and political action imposed from Brussels was part of the plan to regain control over the country. “The sanctions are primarily aimed at slowing down the socio-economic development of the country,” he said, “thereby worsening the situation of the entire population, creating hotbeds of destabilization and forcing them to ultimately support new powers.”

Belarus’ embattled veteran leader, Alexander Lukashenko, claimed last year that political turmoil in the country was being directed from abroad. As long-running protests ignited following a disputed presidential election, in which he declared himself the winner, Lukashenko said that Poland, along with the UK and the Czech Republic, had tried to fix the results.

“They were controlling our, I beg your pardon, sheep: they don’t understand what they’re doing and they’re being controlled already,” he insisted. The opposition, and many international observers, have declared that the election was rigged in Lukashenko’s favor, and mass demonstrations calling for a fresh vote have run on for months.

Despite branding the opposition Western-backed “puppets,” the long-time president has committed to stepping back from the top job once a new constitution is in place. He has claimed that a transition of power before the new document is voted through would be a “disaster.”

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However, former election candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled the country for nearby Lithuania shortly after the vote, has alleged that the process is simply a stalling tactic. “I don’t think that Lukashenko will step down voluntarily,” she said. “By talking about the new constitution, Lukashenko attempts to buy himself time to justify his staying in power. All his promises are fake. The rhetoric is used to deceive the West.”

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