Lukashenko keeps trying formatting the “Teddy bear drop” as an international conspiracy

April 22, 2016 18:16

Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to make the “Teddy bear drop” look like an international conspiracy rather than a failure in the air-defense system, have not had the desired effect yet. The EU reaction was a fairly restrained one. It implies, that Belarus is yet to ‘provide an adequate response to the ‘teddy bear affairs’’.

On August 8th, Belarusian Foreign Ministry recalled its embassy in Sweden and requested the Swedish diplomatic mission staff to leave Minsk. On August 10, the KGB sent an official notice to Swedish nationals who took part in the ‘Teddy bear drop’, requesting them to come to Belarus for questioning saying their rights would be guaranteed. The KGB hinted that if the Swedes come to the “crime scene”, it could have a positive impact on the fate of those arrested on charges linked to the incident: a Belarusian student and a realtor, who were accused of “aiding and abetting” illegal border crossing.

The actions of the Belarusian authorities have caused a serious international outcry (for example, Swedish Foreign Minister informally said that “Lukashenko is behaving like a bandit”), but so far it all has not resulted in a full scale international conflict. The main reason behind this is a fairly restrained reaction by the European Union.

Resolution adopted by the Committee for Political and Security issued at a special EU meeting on August 10th, indicates, that Brussels is likely to fall for Belarus’ provocations and to extend the sanctions, but only after the parliamentary elections, depending on the way they would be carried out.

Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to make the “Teddy bear drop” look like an international conspiracy rather than a failure in the air-defense system, have not had the desired effect yet due to a fairly restrained reaction by the European Union. Moreover, avoidance of the EU to immediately extend the sanctions stripped Belarus of “trump” arguments for mobilizing allied assistance from Moscow.

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Erik Sigerud, Post Mortem, 2009, oil and vinyl on canvas, 74.8” x 177.” Courtesy of the artist.

Amid budgetary cuts on social protection, the Belarusian public sector is experiencing a management crisis and a balance shift in the state resource redistribution system. The authorities are forced to revise their most unpopular decisions during the implementation due to the pressure from affected social groups. The state is unlikely to oppose to some civil society and opposition organisations in strengthening their role in society in order to retain touch with the population and to be able to respond to the most harsh criticism of state initiatives.

The Architecture and Construction Ministry has acknowledged that the decree No 585 on assistance to large and young families in building and buying housing was prematurely rescinded.

The authorities are often forced to revise their decisions on curtailing social assistance to different social groups during their implementation, without preliminary impact assessment and feedback from the population, so as they lead to the growth in social tension. Due to the centralised decision making, languishing state resources and the lack of public debate as a balancing instrument in issues related to social protection, the state administration is losing control of the population.

Perhaps, the compensatory mechanisms of the state apparatus lack the time to adjust to dwindling state resources for supporting the existing social model, even in a reduced form. The authorities have completely or partially paralysed operations of independent public institutions and representative bodies, through which they could monitor public moods and receive feedback from the population, such as local councils, the parliament, political parties and NGOs. Last year, under the pressure of the authorities, the last independent institute for measuring public sentiment, IISEPS, suspended operations.

President Lukashenka’s self-removal from the decision-making on current socio-economic issues, also could have affected the state apparatus’ operations. The president has always been very sensitive about adopting unpopular decisions which could lower his popular support, hence demanded a careful preliminary assessment of such decisions. However, recently, especially after the introduction of the tax on social dependants, the president has mainly focused on the foreign policy agenda.

Hence, a lacuna has formed in the state decision-making after the president reduced participation in the current socio-economic policy formation, which leads to an increase in manifestations of dysfunction in the public administration.