Digest of the most important regional events in November
The latest trend is President’s field trips to woodworking industry enterprises. During the visits, Lukashenko made a number of controversial statements. He promised to introduce a ban on layoffs and to sack half of the government.
The President’s unexpected return to public field trips policy started with the Brest region. During his visit to Ivatsevichidrev, Lukashenko said that modernization programme’s funds aimed at wood processing enterprises had been spent inefficiently. Ivatsevichidrev Director was publicly sacked in front of TV cameras and replaced by Bellesbumprom concern head. A week later, while visiting Borisovdrev, the President said that the woodworking industry modernization project failed entirely. In the near future he is anticipated to visit woodworking enterprises in Vitebsk, Mogilev and Gomel regions.
The current demonstrative public interest in the woodworking industry is attributable to the need to find additional electoral support in the regions. Wood processing industry is not essential for the Belarusian economy, therefore its use by the authorities as a test ground for “introduce order in the regions”.
Perhaps, the authorities started seeking for electoral support two years before the presidential election because the Presidential Administration anticipates a dropdown in popularity and support next year. This expectation may be associated with the increased pace of population’s impoverishment.
Vitebsk region was also the main field newsmaker in November: there was an attack on the KGB building and a social activist from Novopolotsk was arrested on spying suspicion charges. The similarity of the attack on the KGB building and the Vitebsk explosion in 2005 resumed discussions about the Minsk metro terrorist attack investigation.
A new head of the Gomel city executive committee was appointed. As a result of a corruption scandal, former Gomel “mayor” was arrested and replaced with Peter Kirichenko, ex-Deputy Chairman of the Gomel Regional Executive Committee on Ideology.
The corruption scandal in Gomel stripped the city of the right to host “Dazhinki” festival in 2013 (an important harvesting celebration). “Dazhynki” will be held in Zhlobin.
In the meanwhile, for the Mogilev region, “Dazhynki” issue is still relevant. The event was held in late September, but the effects of poor construction in the preparation for the festival still had not been eliminated.
Grodno region showed improvement in the investment climate. Also, the pressure on anti-nuclear initiative activists increased in Astravets, the Belarusian NPP construction sight. Persecution intensified after the 2012 election campaign ended.