Industry prospects depend on Russian market
December 2014 saw the industrial production index go lower than 100% in comparison to the same month last year (the last time this happened was in February 2014).
The cumulative production growth of 1.9% as of 2014 year-end created a high comparative base for the 2015 index numbers. Under current conditions, the industry will be unable to demonstrate production growth, and it is reasonable to expect operational indicators to decrease. Devaluation will create difficulties for buying materials as a result of restrictions on price rises, but the competitive ability of the exported goods will be restored as a result of a further fall in the Belarusian ruble. If the economic situation in Russia continues to deteriorate, the big enterprises which are oriented towards the Russian market could see a large fall in their production levels, and underemployment and social instability may rise.
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.