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The authorities encourage business initiative, enhance domestic security and bolster pressure on independent media

Category status:
- (The situation has not changed)
11-17.12.2017
Image: nn.by

Despite some economic stabilisation, the state is consistently implementing measures to encourage business activity. The president replaced the leadership of the special services and marked the anniversary of the KGB. The Information Ministry blocked independent website Belarusian Partisan. The local elections remained outside the focus of the state information policy.

The government has not abandoned efforts on encouraging business activity in Belarus. Last week, the parliament adopted amendments to the Law on Privatization in the first reading. The amendments reduce the limitation period for privatization transactions from 10 to 3 years, envisage measures to improve management in semi-state organisations, but abandon privatisation plans. Some analysts believe, amendments would make some positive changes, albeit being half-measures, they are unlikely to improve privatisation terms significantly, especially amid frequent reports about the administrative pressure on business. In addition, the state aims to introduce international financial reporting at some state enterprises, abandon state audit plans and draft a decree on IT.  

Simultaneously, the domestic policy remained tough. The President congratulated the KGB on the anniversary in person, noting that the main task for the KGB was the struggle for national interests. The President appointed Pavluchenko, former head of the Presidential Security Service, as the head of the Operational Analytical Centre (OAC) (for two months this position remained vacant). Almost immediately after his appointment, Belarusianpartisan.by website was blocked (this body also controls the Internet).

Some commentators have linked changes in the OAC with the preparation of a decree on IT (envisaging a deal: “tax and other benefits in exchange for tightening control over the Internet”), others have marked the weakening influence of president’s son Viktor Lukashenka (allegedly, belaruspartisan.by was blocked after an article about it). In addition, some commentators have alleged that the website was blocked to please Russia and suppress its pro-Ukrainian activity, while others, on the contrary, interpreted the closure of belaruspartisan.by as a warning signal to Russia. Irrelevant of the immediate reasons for blocking the website and recent appointments in the special services, these facts have confirmed that special services have a firm grip on the information space and focus on tight control over Belarusian citizens. Hence, they pay residual attention to external threats.

Previously in: The ruling elite

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