2016: Relaxed political monopoly amid retained micromanagement
Most important trends in 2016:
- Political liberalisation continued after the elections, breaking political conventions
- Opposition’s attitudes evolved from non-compromising to constructive
- Conflicts built up in the nomenclature; the law enforcement enhanced involvement in the fight among nomenclature groups
- The Russo-Belarusian dispute evolved into a chronic crisis, with fewer economic benefits from cooperation with Russia
- Belarus’ relations with the West normalised
- The authorities revised ideology and media mechanisms
- Status quo in the economic policy retained with half-hearted and inconsistent decisions on economic reforms
- The national currency stabilised; loans became cheaper; amid corporate debt build-up, corporate lending and lending for housing construction reduced, and the quality of banks' assets deteriorated
- Job cuts in the economy continued, tariffs for public services went up while the state preserved its share in the GDP
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.