The authorities welcome moderate Slavism
On November 25th, the “Slavic March”, authorized by the city authorities was held in Mogilev.
The authorities encourage political activities of organizations that are not associated with the “conventional” opposition. Simultaneously Minsk attempts to demonstrate to Moscow that Belarus is the bearer of the “true” Slavic values and Russian historical traditions.
The event in Mogilev was of an explicitly “pro-Russian” character: the participants intended to use the black-yellow-white flags of the Russian Empire (all in all, it was not allowed by the local administration), and also claimed to represent the Russian nation and chanted “Glory to Belaya Rus” “Glory to Russia” and “Forward, Russians”. A participant of the 2010 presidential campaign Mr. Ryzhov spoke at the rally.
Most likely, the authorities are interested in holding such events due to their patriotic and pro-Russian character, and especially that they take place near the hometown of President Lukashenko. Mogilev is an informal capital for governmental personnel and the closest to Lukashenko family leaders come from this region.
The “Slavic March” was approved and held for the second time. The first “Slavic March” was approved to be held before the presidential elections in September 2010, but then it did not take place because of the organizer’s desire to use the unauthorized black-yellow-white flags. On November 25th the March was attended by about 40 people - mostly young people, united around an informal leader Mr. Denisenko, who was not a member of any organization.
The authorities’ arbitrary policy towards different political players is confirmed by the Slutsk Executive Committee’s rejection of the request filed by the head of the Belarusian Popular Front local branch Mr. Amelkovich to hold a rally to commemorate the anniversary of the Slutsk uprising on December 1st. The BPF is known for its patriotic, but stridently anti-Russian position, which has probably predetermined the authorities’ decision against the BPF initiative.
It would be a mistake to assume that the government is really interested in the revitalization of political movements in Belarus - any political activity is perceived as a threat to the current regime. Therefore, the authorities were quite comfortable and safe with a small number of the “Slavic March” participants, as well as with the non-existence of ‘Slavism’ organizations in Mogilev.
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.