Amid growing public criticism of Interior Ministry, Belarusian authorities attempt to boost loyalty of security forces

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June 05, 2017 12:45
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Amid growth in controversial media reports involving power officials, the Belarusian leadership is publicly demonstrating its support for the power bloc to boost the loyalty of law enforcement. Meanwhile, the supremacy of the power bloc in the Belarusian politics has dysbalanced the power system and requires the president’s intervention. It is possible that a loyal, but odious and currently gaining political weight Interior Minister Shunevich may soon be removed from the office and assigned to a less influential post.

Last week, Speaker of the House of Representatives Vladimir Andreichenko awarded Interior Minister Igor Shunevich with the diploma for "activities aiming to ensure the rights and freedoms of citizens and a significant contribution to strengthening law and order".

On social networks and independent media, a deterioration in discipline in the law enforcement, impunity and lawlessness of the Interior Ministry have caused a major debate. Apparently, such a behaviour of the law enforcement was due to the significantly increased role of the power bloc in Belarus’ power system. Amid economic failures and falling popular ratings of state institutions, the power block was the force to contain the protest movement in Belarus.

President Lukashenka was prompted to criticise power officials in Orsha, when he learned that security officials broke into the house of the local executive head without informing him about it. In Orsha, actions of law enforcement officers have interfered with the established balance of powers in Belarus, whereas the presidential hierarchy headed by Lukashenka is the main power centre, immune from prosecution by the law enforcers. It is unlikely that the Interior Minister was unaware of the actions of his subordinates in Orsha, however, he did not disclose their intentions to the president and allowed the policemen to cross the implicit red line.

Meanwhile, the current role of the power bloc in maintaining social and political stability in society and its weight among other state institutions restricts the president from a more decisive action. President Lukashenka is forced to public demonstrations of support for the power bloc in order to retain its loyalty and readiness to mobilise to protect the Belarusian leadership in the case of social unrest.

The president is likely to attempt to relax the growing tension within the power bloc, to mitigate criticism from the population and to balance out the institutional weight of Minister Shunevich with the usual staff reshuffles.

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According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.

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