Moscow conditions the parliamentary elections’ recognition with implementation of bilateral agreements
Kremlin promises the recognition of the parliamentary elections in Belarus in exchange for the implementation of bilateral economic agreements. In turn, Belarus will try to get the elections’ recognition and to put off privatization.
On August 14-15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was on a working visit in Minsk, meeting with President Lukashenko and Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov.
The main public message during Lavrov’s visit was Russia’s willingness to recognize the parliamentary elections to be held in Belarus in September. Minister Lavrov vowed to ensure the participation of Russian observers in several observation missions, which will operate in Belarus during the elections, organized by various international organizations: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, OSCE/ODIHR and the CIS.
However, these political promises by Lavrov should be considered in the context of the ongoing economic bargaining between Belarus and Russia. In particular, Lavrov reminded President Lukashenko to respect previous agreements with President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev. The most important of these relate to the privatization of large Belarusian companies, in particular, Belaruskali (discussed during Medvedev’s visit in July) and MAZ (discussed during Putin’s visit in May).
On the eve of the parliamentary elections, the Belarusian authorities face with extremely high external pressure, in particular in the economy. Suspended naphtha deliveries from Russia could have very negative consequences for the economy and increase the likelihood of authorities’ failure to fulfill their main political promises about the USD 500 average salary by the end of 2012.
In this regard, the government might make a concession with regard to privatization, as it was in autumn 2011. For instance, it might put on sale non-strategic assets, such as shares in the Belarusian mobile operator MTS. If so, privatization of industrial enterprises will be delayed until the last moment.
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.