Ekaterina Egorova, President of “Niccolo M” Group of Companies, Russia
Elizaveta Egorova, political psychologist, University of Northern Virginia, USA
Alexander Lukashenko has got used to act on a grand scale. If he is sure to be elected the president again, so be it for the fourth term. If he is sure to come into a serious conflict, then let it be with both the entire West and Russia. But if the European leaders and President Obama are lucky that they can simply ignore the impudent Lukashenko until he is sometime brought to The Hague, the Russian political leaders are less fortunate.
Lukashenko is a partner of Medvedev and Putin no matter how they may treat him. And since he is their partner, their interaction with him within the limits of the Union of Russia and Belarus is as inevitable as wintertime. Lukashenko is quite aware of this. Moreover, he interacts with the Russian leadership pretty well, winning both gas and dairy wars with a handsome profit.
Dmitry Shchigelsky, a Belarusian psychiatrist, has made a bright analysis of Lukashenko’s personality as a dictator-psychopath ranking with Hitler and Stalin. Incidentally, both Stalin and Hitler attract Lukashenko as ideals for imitation. In his words, “Hitler created a powerful Germany owing to the strong presidential power. After all, the German order has been developing for centuries. Under Hitler, this process reached its highest point. This is how we understand the presidential republic and the role of the president in it.” Later on, justifying himself, he told that Hitler was “a real fascist, a real idiot in power who destroyed a lot of people but managed to unite the nation by means of tough policy at that stage. The result was obvious! Therefore, there is no need to reproach me that we wished to have the serious tough power in Belarus!”
The similarity of Lukashenko’s personal displays with those of Stalin explains in many respects his popularity among those circles of the Russian political elite and electorate that believe that a firm hand is simply necessary for Russia for its safety and prosperity. We will not commit a sin against the truth if we say that a lot of people in the political elite would like to see Lukashenko the President of a Union State of Russia and Belarus. This post is Lukashenko’s desired goal but so far hardly achievable and therefore causing a great deal of irritation for him in respect of the Russian tandem. But since Lukashenko understands that he needs to deal with Medvedev and Putin, his interaction with them has become a mixture of aggressive rhetoric and skilful manipulation.
We have decided to analyze Lukashenko’s personal characteristics that allow him to successfully reach his goals in relations with Russia. The personality of Lukashenko may be discussed from the point of view of his psychiatric diagnosis, whether he is a sane person or a person that needs compulsory treatment, but there are indices which are important to analyze in order to understand and predict his behavior in “the pre-The Hague” period. Using the research results obtained by the method of the computer psychological analysis of political leaders’ texts (VAAL), we have studied a number of major blocks of Lukashenko’s personality that allow him to effectively solve the foreign policy and foreign trade problems with Russia.
Lukashenko’s obsession with power plays the major role in his success. Power is his main demon, his main passion in life. For the sake of power, he is ready to do everything and there exist no limitations in the field of ethics or values capable of restraining Lukashenko. And it is quite explainable. His need for power is unusually high, amounting to 34.8. It is 4.6 times higher than that of Medvedev and 5.3 times higher than Putin’s one.
This explains his putting pressure on the Russian leaders, his absence of fear, his readiness to uphold his interests at any cost, his sense of force in dealing with them, his high level of aggression, his excellent feeling during the conflict periods and his drive to suppress his foreign policy opponents. The conflict with them only strengthens his importance in his own eyes. From his point of view, the Russian leaders are not weak opponents like those from among his internal opposition but serious players and only a strong political leader can afford to come into conflict with them.
The need for power is a system forming characteristic of Lukashenko that represents a cornerstone on which Lukashenko’s self-esteem rests. Growing up with his mother who was endlessly changing her sexual partners that as a child he observed this time and again, Lukashenko had no cloudless childhood full of love and care. Nobody knew his biological father. But all gossiped about him being either a Gipsy or a Jew. And neither this nor other hypothesis was flattering to the teenager’s vanity.
Having suffered from humiliations and dislike, he was in great need of compensating his understated and wounded self-esteem. He was craving for a social position which would make people respect him, would force them to reckon with him and to recognize him as a personality. Such position has been connected with power. And, naturally, having become the president, he will not give up this post voluntary. But in the course of time, the boundless power in Belarus could not do Lukashenko’s heart good anymore and he began to satisfy his imperious ambitions in relations with the Russian leadership by clashing and winning.
Lukashenko is also noted for the highest need for achievement, amounting to 33.5. His need for achievement surpasses that of Medvedev 3.8 times and that of Putin 4.4 times. And this means that Lukashenko is even more purposeful in achieving his goals than they are, even more inclined to maneuvering and even more pragmatic in his approach to the choice of means. Lukashenko is motivated to success at any cost and only seldom cares not to be trapped or how to avoid a failure. Lukashenko easily passes from criticism to flirting, abusing Europeans in Russia and criticizing severely the Russian leaders while dealing with Europeans. Perhaps, he is constant only in his hostility to the United States. Lukashenko is ready for any tactic union only if it were profitable for him. And those politicians in Russia who think that Lukashenko is “our son of a bitch” are terribly mistaken. Lukashenko is certainly “a son of a bitch” but not ours; he works only for himself and his interests and this is his main feature which should not be overlooked in foreign policy toward him.
Lukashenko coolly calculates his steps, deciding in advance that he will not give in an inch. He often uses the images of resistance to the Nazi armies in 1941, referring to Belarus of today as a front line. But at present, the images of “resistance,” “holding out,” and “struggle” are not adequate for describing Belarus’s foreign policy situation. None of the European countries has attacked it and is not going to attack. The United States is not a country that threatens the safety of Belarus either. In Russia, some politicians consider Belarus as a sanitary cordon between Russia and NATO but definitely not as a target for an attack.
So, what do these metaphors of “defense” mean? Firstly, they are heroic images for him aimed at strengthening an image of a hero in his own eyes. Secondly, this is an important part of his self-esteem in which Lukashenko sees himself as a soldier-winner who not only verbally but in a difficult foreign policy game beats his opponents-counterparts. Thirdly, he often speaks about the protection of the Common Fatherland, the USSR, which he understands today as the huge space of the Union State, his desired target for reigning. Lukashenko thinks of himself not as a Belarusian leader but as a super-national leader like Stalin was in the USSR. God has no nationality. He is above all people. So is Lukashenko in his psychological fantasies.
Lukashenko has a very high need for affiliation, approval, recognition and even adoration. It is almost 10 times stronger than that of Medvedev and Putin. But he has little hope of support and little fear of being rejected. This combination of characteristics is rather interesting for the analysis. He is in desperate need of recognition but knows pretty well that he has nothing to count on. He is not afraid of being “a bad boy” because nobody loves him anyway and he has nothing to lose. Moreover, he is ready to punish all those who do not recognize him, only in a different way: by destroying his opposition in the country and by manipulating and deceiving those he has to deal with.
Moreover, he sticks to the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If he can co-operate with Saakashvili to spite Medvedev and Putin, he does it. Having assured the Russian leadership of his intention to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he nevertheless does not recognize them, knowing well how this upsets the Russian leaders. He tries to aim at Chavez and his oil in order to tease Russia again. It is impossible to build up a union with Lukashenko not only because he is “a bad boy.” Lukashenko fails to keep his promises in these unions because he knows that nobody will recognize, support and love him anyway. And he will betray any partner with pleasure to his benefit.
Lukashenko is quite able to build up the hierarchy of his goals and needs. This is an important quality for a political leader. He is quite able to control his passions and to hold back his momentary desires. His need for carrying out his duty amounts to 26.4 that is three times stronger than his need for fulfilling his personal desires. However, he understands his duty as the major goals of holding power in the state in which he reigns. And he also understands that in order to continue his reining, the kingdom itself should not collapse and its population should not die of cold and hunger. Therefore, his strategic goal – to get rid of all enemies at once – is more important than tactical ones. Besides, the game with the Russian leaders in which Lukashenko tries to reach his goals by means of manipulations, deceit and intrigues gives him great pleasure and allows him to compensate his wounded self-esteem.
By nature, Lukashenko is not demonstrative unless this is necessary for the sake of policy. On the whole, he is not inclined to depressiveness. He is trained enough psychologically and ready to solve problems as they appear. It is not difficult for him to endure stressful situations for a long time since he skillfully turns a problem into a task which he then carries out.
However, as a psychopath, he is maniacally suspicious, distrustful and constantly in search of enemies. Therefore, plots are discovered on a regular basis in which he finds the traces either of the West or Russia. And the more blood Lukashenko has on his hands, the more he is preoccupied with looking for enemies. In a company of Stalin, Hitler and Saddam Hussein, he would have something to talk about. But his off-scale suspiciousness of 19.9 eats away his brain and does not give him the possibility to relax either at daytime or at night. Therefore, it is next to impossible to lull his vigilance or to deceive him.
In fact, Lukashenko’s partners have no means to exert influence on him. He recognizes neither force nor moral. Therefore, any foreign policy strategy in respect of Lukashenko is defective initially. It is impossible to beat him playing by the rules. Bearing in mind the lessons of the Munich negotiations that pacifying a dictator is fraught with serious consequences, Lukashenko’s political partners should take a hard line on him. It would be right not to recognize the election results and together with the leaders of other European states to give him the last economic help by buying him an air ticket to The Hague. But, unfortunately, Russia’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs does not support the sanctions against Lukashenko, proposing, on the contrary, to involve Lukashenko in the international cooperation. Cooperation with Lukashenko is not a question of personal hygiene anymore; this is a bad knowledge of history. We remember Chamberlain also used to suggest interacting with Hitler.
Characteristics of Personality Lukashenko
Achievement of success 35.5
Failure avoidance 1.1
Hopes for support -0.4
Fear of rejection -3.2
Desire for power 28.1
Fear of power 4.7
Focus of attention
Outer “I have to” 26.4
Inner “I wish” 6.8
Suspiciousness (Paranoidness) 19.9
Accurate definition 1.8
Movement to -3.3
Movement from 1.6