Belarusian authorities have not clamped down opposition rallies with political demands
Street protests against the West-2017 military exercise, an unauthorized rally and a march "For Peaceful Belarus", organized by the Statkevich-led Belarusian National Committee, have been held in Minsk centre, as well as the authorised rally in the Kiev square in Minsk organised by the Belarusian Popular Front. The rallies have put forward political demands untied from the socio-economic agenda, which mobilized only a limited number of activists and hardly had any impact on broad population. Power officials have not interfered with the rallies in Minsk and even released Statkevich from the detention centre before the rally. The authorities aim to prevent the growing confrontation in the information space due to the Russo-Belarusian military exercise West-2017 and avoid unnecessary discussions about the ideological split in society.
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.