The state has focused on micromanaging the public sector and tightening the screws for political parties and independent media
The president has stepped up pressure on the government and local executives to ensure their mobilization before the elections and the implementation of projected economic indicators. The authorities upheld the decision to deport United Civic Party press secretary Krasulina and did not drop charges against TUT.BY editor-in-chief Zolotova.
President Lukashenka criticized Deputy Prime Minister Rusy, the agro-industrial complex leadership and regional executives for failing projected indicators in the flax industry. Amidst the absence of anticipated effects from the state modernization programme, the president aspires to boost the efficiency of the public sector through administrative pressure and enhanced control.
In addition, the president announced a large-scale anti-corruption campaign in the field of engineering imports. The political leadership is prompted to milk the nomenclature due to the dwindling public resources.
Despite her appeal, law enforcers refused to drop criminal charges against the TUT.by editor-in-chief, Marina Zolotova. Simultaneously, they have mitigated charges for other defendants in the BelTA case by replacing criminal charges with administrative ones and handing out fines between BYN 3,000 to BYN 17,000. Since 2015, the authorities have used fines and other financial sanctions against independent journalists, activists and the opposition more frequently, as compared with arrests.
Apparently, law enforcers envisage enhancing self-censorship at the most popular independent portal in Belarus, TUT.by, and other independent media. In addition, the authorities assume that the criminal prosecution of the TUT.by editor-in-chief and financial sanctions against journalists who were previously charged within the BelTA case would not affect the positive dynamics in pragmatic cooperation with Western capitals. In addition, law enforcers have upheld the decision to expel the UCP press secretary from Belarus for a year, which she has appealed.
The Belarusian leadership’s domestic political strategy appears to be as follows: they assume a short-term escalation by exerting pressure on their opponents, which is followed by a relaxation and milder sanctions, as it was in the White Legion and BelTA cases. Thanks to this approach, the authorities manage to shift the focus of the media form their actions onto disagreements within civil society, independent media and the opposition and retain the normalization process with Western capitals.