Belarusian opposition declares consolidation

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April 22, 2016 17:47

On 29 June in Minsk representatives of six opposition parties and democratic movements have signed an agreement on conditions of participation in the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

They have put forward demands to the authorities: to release political prisoners and guarantee free elections. The agreement was signed by the leaders of UCP, BChD, BPF, “Fair World” party, “For Freedom” movement and “Tell the Truth!” civil campaign.

Comment

On the one hand, the Belarusian opposition demonstrates consistency in the coordination of their positions and step by step approach to forming a consolidated view on key policy issues: resolution of political crisis after 19 December and the Parliamentary elections of 2012. The most topical issues include the release of political prisoners and a likely boycott of the Parliamentary elections, depending on the reaction of the authorities.

However, this event should be regarded as tactical rather than strategic step. Regardless of the obvious progress in the rapprochement of positions, representatives of political parties and movements emphasize that the signed document is an agreement, not an action programme. Also a joint statement by the leaders of political parties and movements should not be considered as establishment of a new coalition.

Therefore the agreement has no “added value” in political sense and represents yet another formal document, repeatedly voicing usual claims to the Belarusian authorities. The more so, one of the signatories of the agreement, the leader of the “Fair World” Party Mr. Kalyakin talked previously at the party congress about the Party’s participation in the Parliamentary elections on condition of democratization of the electoral system.

In the first place, the agreement is not addressed to the authorities, rather to other democratic partners and represents a „trial balloon”. Its main objective is to test the grounds for potential future coalitions. At the same time, optional and tactical nature of the agreement provides a strong reason to doubt that it will be signed by new parties.

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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.

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