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 has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.