LDPB connections in Russia have no impact at home
Among Belarusian parties, the Liberal Democratic Party maintains the closest contacts with Russia about policy-relevant issues. However, the party’s influence in Belarus is minimal: vertical control system, established by Lukashenko, effectively neutralizes all party’s attempts to benefit from its external policy assets.
On November 5th, Liberal Democratic Party delegation, headed by Deputy Chairman Oleg Gaidukevich, took part in the VII Congress of the People’s Party of South Ossetia in Tskhinvali.
The LDPB traditionally maintained a close working relationship with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and - at least at the rhetoric level – is in favor of closer cooperation between Belarus and Russia. In particular, LDPB Chairman Gaidukevich previously advocated for the need to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as for the introduction of the Russian ruble in Belarus. In South Ossetia LDPB concluded a cooperation agreement with the People’s Party of South Ossetia, as well as the Russian Liberal Democratic Party.
However, the level of bilateral cooperation between the LDPR and LDPB is not high. For example, according to the Party press service, during the visit on October 29 to Moscow, LDPB Chairman Sergey Gaidukevich and his Deputy Oleg Gaidukevich met only with Deputy Chairman of the LDPR Ovsyannikov, not with the Party’s Chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky or other Russian politicians.
In turn, inside Belarus LDPB statements about the single currency, recognition of the Caucasian republics, and plans for the 2015 presidential election do not have any political effect. For example, the party was de facto barred from the last two election campaigns (parliamentary in 2008 and presidential in 2010), and in the 2012 parliamentary elections, LDPB candidate Mel’nikov had lost the race in the Navabelitski District of Gomel, even though there were no other candidates (according to official data, the majority voted against the only candidate, which was nonsense for the Belarusian elections).
In turn, the LDPB cannot counteract such arbitrariness of the Belarusian authorities. Moreover, the party’s influence is decreasing. In particular, in August Oleg Gaidukevich (son of party’s Chairman Sergei Gaidukevich) left his job as Chief of the Frunze district police department of Minsk and was appointed Deputy Chairman of LDPB. In March 2012, Gaidukevich’s Deputy Chairman Kotsarenko was arrested on corruption charges. Back then he chaired “Tekhnobank’s” Supervisory Board. He is under investigation until today. All these facts point to the weakening of the Gaidukevich’s family in the Belarusian elite.
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.