Belarusian authorities soften charges against Regnum authors and patriots in White Legion case
New charges of illegal entrepreneurship have been brought against two arrested authors of Regnum Russian News Agency, Yuri Pavlovets and Sergei Shiptenko. Apparently, the authorities could requalify the criminal case against two Russian authors thereby softening the punishment (minimal penalty is a fine). Previous charges for inciting racial, ethnic or religious hatred or discord envisage 5 to 12 years in prison. Hence, the law enforcement has attached economic component to the persecution against Regnum authors. Regarding defendants in the White Legion case, the law enforcement has dropped charges for preparations for mass riots and supported charges for creating an illegal armed group. Charges in the White Legion case also envisage a milder punishment – at best, restricted freedom. Altogether, under the pressure of the international community and civil society, the Belarusian authorities have apparently softened charges against defendants in both cases, enabling convictions without incarceration.
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.