Another blow to Prime Minister Myasnikovich
On October 19, the website “Belaruspartisan” published information from an anonymous source from the Presidential Administration which brings one to conclude that President Lukashenko heavily criticized Myasnikovich in his presence.
This information leak about the sharp criticism of the Prime Minister by the President only confirms that the former is assessed by the latter as “a lame duck”. However, Lukashenko is interested in connecting the resignation of the Prime Minister with a good reason, such as potential complications on the foreign exchange market. The anonymous material seems to be very realistic. On behalf of President Lukashenko, in an aggressive manner, Myasnikovich is criticized for inappropriate performance of construction works in the town of Gorky before the annual Dazhynki celebration.
“How can such a bungling of the builders be explained? First, the tiles in the pavement got broken, now I am told that mould appeared in the newly built hall of residence. We spent almost 3 million dollars on making improvements in Gorky and now the fungus is eating it all up? Every week you were reporting how improvement works proceeded, so where is the result? The guests have left and to hell with everything? Go to Gorky at once. If you can’t build properly, then lick the mould off with the governor using your tongues and lay the tiles anew. I have the impression that the government decided to bugger off. I guess that I will have to help you and then you will march at Bangalor square with our fifth column. You must inform me by the end of the week about the reasons for this bungling at the construction sites. All those who are guilty must be severely punished”.
The most remarkable thing in this story is the very fact that information has been leaked to independent media about a scandalous conversation between the president and the Prime Minister, namely such a detailed quotation. Even if the quotation is not authentic, the fact that it became public shows that in Lukashenko’s milieu there is a group that wants Myasnikovich to resign. By doing so, they diminish his influence and disgrace him. It is also worth noting that during 2012, Myasnikovich’s cabinet has been consistently weakened when ministers were appointed to other posts.
Nevertheless, to fire Myasnikovich, Lukashenko needs a more reasonable cause connected with the government’s inability to fulfill their obligations. Most likely, the cause will be failure to meet forecast indicators of economic growth, in particular, potential problems with the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble. Thus, at a public meeting on October 15, Lukashenko announced that he was satisfied with positive improvement of the situation on the foreign exchange market and required the Prime Minister to consolidate this success.
The paradox of the situation with the highly probable resignation of Myasnikovich is that the president is objectively interested in the (short-term) destabilization of the economy, since it would allow him to shift responsibility and blame the government for further problems as well as to finish reshuffling the cabinet. At the same time, Lukashenko is tied by his promise to raise the average monthly wages in the country to USD 500 by the end of the year, which gives Myasnikovich time to restore his influence.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.