Belarusian army is forced to change information policy
The Belarusian Defence Ministry has demonstrated greater openness, which was a forced step dictated by external circumstances, independent of the generals’ will. Minsk is fighting for credits from all parties in the ongoing confrontation in Eastern Europe, which, inter alia, requires greater transparency of military activity in Belarus.
On July 12th, 2017, the Belarusian Defence Ministry organised a briefing on West-2017 military drill at the OSCE Security Forum in Vienna. According to the Ministry, about 150 journalists have already accredited to cover the West-2017 exercise and accreditation is still ongoing.
On August 29th, 2017, Chief of the General Staff of the Belarusian Army Oleg Belokonev for the first time held a briefing dedicated to the forthcoming Belarusian-Russian drill. Although the briefing itself was not sufficient in terms of the format and information provided, it was a significant step towards greater transparency of the military.
Negative media coverage of the forthcoming Russo-Belarusian military drill and fears of political provocations have prompted the Belarusian military leadership to change its information policy. The Defence Ministry comprehends the importance of publicity in contemporary society and, despite the inherent military conservatism, has demonstrated willingness to change approaches. Having stepped over their fears and insecurities, the generals, evidently with the approval of the Belarus’ top political leadership, have demonstrated greater openness in the preparation and conduct of the "West-2017" exercise (albeit still insufficient in modern society). The Defence Ministry has ambitions to become a moderator on defence issues in Belarus.
The process aimed to enhance the transparency of the Belarusian military has been launched, but it will take a while to implement, due to both, the inherent conservatism of the army and limited technical and human capacity of the Defence Ministry required to ensure high-quality information support for the Ministry activity. Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has the idea of the importance of publicity in modern conditions, and has acknowledged its weakness in this regard.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.