Lukashenko enlisted Medvedev’s support
On 24 February Presidents of Belarus and Russia, Lukashenka and Medvedev issued a joint statement condemning the economic sanctions implemented by the U.S. and the EU against Belarus.
First of all, this statement should be regarded as Lukashenko’s personal statement. Thereby the President, who is perceived by the Belarusian business environment as the one to be blamed for the sanctions, demonstrates his indispensability in relations with the Kremlin. At the same time, the CES’ promise of support with Lukashenko’s mediation becomes an insurance policy for those businesses and oligarchs, who could be affected by the new economic sanctions.
It is worth to mention that the statement came out not as a result of the efforts undertaken by Lukashenko and his Administration, but rather of lobby by the First Vice-Prime Minister of Belarus Mr. Rumas, who addressed a letter to the leadership of the Eurasian Economic Commission on 15 February requesting for such support. Therefore the reciprocal gesture of the Administration of the Russian President should be considered as a support to the team of the Prime Minister Myasnikovich. Predictably the government’s role in the joint statement has not been mentioned so far.
If Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin signed the statement, it would have been more impressive. However in that case on behalf of Belarus it should have been signed by the Prime Minister Myasnikovich, becoming a dangerous challenge to the domestic influence of President Lukashenko.
Nevertheless, with the efforts of government officials, journalists and experts, the joint statement of Lukashenko and Medvedev was communicated to the Belarusian population as a sign of close friendship between the two presidents and as an evidence of support of President Lukashenko by a strong political and economic partner.
However, the mere appearance of the joint statement at the last moment, at 16:00 on Friday, 24 February, i.e. at the end of the last working day before Monday, 27 February, when a meeting of the Council of the EU is to take place, implies that Belarus assesses the probability of new sanctions as high and is afraid of such outcome.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.