President starts campaigning; authorities send conflicting signals to the economy
President Lukashenka started filed trips to Belarusian regions as a part of his election campaign. Law enforcers attempt to justify economic failures with criminal prosecution of public managers. The economic authorities propose positive changes in the securities market and measures to give a boost to regional development.
The president has focused on field trips to most troubled economic regions of Belarus in an effort to mobilise and discipline local executives. Last week, Lukashenka visited Baranavichy and the Mogilev region, where he lashed out at local governors and made some observations about private business. These trips have become a pretext for high-level staff rotations. He has dismissed Deputy Prime Minister Rusy, Minskelkhozprod Head Zayats, Mogilev region head Domanevsky, Shklovsky district head Vityunov, and his assistant for the Mogilev region, Lavrenkov. In the meanwhile, the State Control Committee has opened criminal cases against managers of the Orsha Tool Plant, Amkodor-Shklov and the Kupalovskoye Agricultural Holding in the Shklovsky District. That said, usually, voters take criticism of public officials by the president positively and president’s popularity ratings go up. The president aims to observe economic failures in troubled regions from afar and make local officials responsible for them.
On Freedom Day on March 25th, law enforcers detained several prominent musicians, politicians and activists who aspired to hold an unauthorized rally and an improvised concert at the October Square. All of them were later released without charges. That said, Dashkevich, who was detained at an authorized event at the Kiev Square, was handed out a BYN 1,100 fine.
The economic authorities aim to develop the stock and securities market, which should appeal to potential investors. To this end, the Finance Ministry has proposed to abandon the preemptive right of executive committees to acquire shares, which has a restraining effect on investments in the regions. In addition, economic authorities envisage reducing the state’s share in joint-stock companies.
Overall, efforts by the economic authorities appear to be at odds with what the president says and what law enforcers do to mobilize public officials and managers before the elections.