Belarusian leadership strengthens regional headquarters in preparation for autumn-winter campaign
President A. Lukashenko has signed a decree introducing a new post, The Authorized Representative of the President in the Regions and Minsk, in addition to already existing assistants or chief inspectors in the regions and the capital. Together with the formation of central political, power and economic HQs in the view of the autumn-winter election campaign 2017/2018, the Belarusian leadership is strengthening the regional electoral machine. Apparently, the presidential administration is having difficulty obtaining objective information about socio-political sentiments in the regions, especially after the closure of the last independent pollster, IISEPS, in 2016.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.