Belarusian authorities are changing economic model through strengthening large business patronised by security forces
The Belarusian leadership has enhanced the influence of the power block on the political and economic agenda to demonstrate that it is in control, especially before the Russo-Belarusian military exercise "West-2017". Apparently, the president anticipates economic growth to retain in the coming months due to administrative means and the anti-corruption pressure from the power block, as well as due to an increase in the share of loyal large business in the economy. The authorities continue probing some economic transformations envisaging a smooth transition from the existing large public sector in the economy to enabling loyal private investors.
The power block has retained its positions in the economy, acting as a kind of a referee when interests of competing business groups clash. Businessmen with connections in the power block have the advantage so as the support from the security forces allows them to remove their competitors from the market due to criminal prosecution on economic charges. Such connections are of a particular value in Belarus because of the confusing legislation and justified claims about the independence of the judiciary. For instance, power officials have detained top managers of businessman Averyanov, who had left Belarus, most likely due to the "war" with creditors for his assets. Simultaneously, the president has demonstrated readiness to increase the share of loyal large business in the economy.
In addition, the state is using the anti-corruption pressure on the beneficiaries of the state aid in the most resource-intensive economic sectors. Since the spring, power officials have been focusing on agriculture, which resulted in about a dozen of criminal cases against managers of the agro-industrial complex. The Belarusian leadership aims to keep agricultural managers alert and reduce their expectations of state support for the industry.
In all likelihood, in the near future the power block is likely to shift the focus onto the work of Belarusian exporters and their foreign partners.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.