Belarusian nomenclature steps up fight for Parliament seats
Independent analysts have noted increased competition within the state apparatus for the seats in the Belarusian parliament. For example, management of the Belaya Rus quango has announced plans to nominate their representatives in all 110 districts. However, the president is jealous of Belaya Rus functionaries’ attempts to monopolize the selection or coordination of parliamentarians and usually gives them a certain quota in the legislative body. Apparently, the debate between supporters of market reforms and conservatives in the government had an impact on the internal atmosphere in the state apparatus and deteriorated competition among nomenclature groups. Most likely, the parliament has gained popularity among public officials due to the president’s intention to carry out further ‘optimisation’ of the state apparatus. In addition, the president has stepped up the anti-corruption activity and set unattainable tasks for the economy amid anticipated deeper recession. Meanwhile, high completion among public officials for deputy seats is unlikely to lead to greater pluralism in the parliament after the election campaign. The authorities are likely to put together the "single list" of their candidates when campaigning kicks off.
Image: Benjamin Bachmair
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.