The Belarusian Parliament may allow relatives to occupy public office
President Lukashenko is forced to take measures to ensure the loyalty of his subordinates. Moreover, the controversial legislation amendment as usual could be used while bargaining with the West about the rule of law.
Realizing that the inevitable budget cost cutting will result in decreased wages of civil servants and increased discontent among the staff, the authorities open up new career opportunities for the officials and their families. If approved, the amendments will legalize nepotism in the public service and will unite the state apparatus to a greater extent, reducing the likelihood of internal strife of nomenclature – that is the apparent logic of this legislative initiative.
Nepotism is traditional for the Belarusian state. This is true not only for the top level officials, for instance, President Lukashenko is working hand in hand with his elder son Victor (Assistant for National Security), but also for the lower level officials. Namely, in 2008 the inspection held by the Presidential Administration revealed a number of regions with “family nests” of hereditary officials who shared managerial and business positions.
Nepotism is traditional for the Belarusian state. This is true not only for the top level officials, for instance, President Lukashenko is working hand in hand with his elder son Victor (Assistant for National Security), but also for the lower level officials.
It is very likely that the amendments will be approved by the Parliament. There is no fight for property among the officials in Belarus per contra the state tends to close ranks of officials, while selling the most profitable assets on ad hoc basis. Therefore, in the given circumstances, the most logical bonus for the civil servants is not to have the opportunity to do business, but vice versa, to be able to continue to serve and guarantee a public career to their loved ones.
Finally, as it often happens in Belarus, the amendments to the Law could provoke a critical reaction of the international community. In this case, they might become an additional stake in the negotiations between Belarus and the West on liberalization and democratization.
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to strengthen some elements of the ‘Soviet’ education to ensure the ideological loyalty of new generations to the state. Most likely, one of the major tasks of the educational reform is to prevent growing discontent with the existing education system among the population. The educational reform aims to strengthen centralisation and adjust the system to the needs of the public sector.
In Belarus, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Economy would determine the university enrolment figures.
The Belarusian authorities do not seem to have a long-term vision of the educational reform. The education system changes depending on who leads the Education Ministry and has access to President Lukashenka. For instance, former head of pro-government communist party and Education Minister Igor Karpenko reintroduced some "Soviet" elements to the school and strengthened ideological components along with the de-politicisation of the curricula. Current generation of students and youth have not spoken against the authorities, unlike previous generations raised during the Gorbachev thaw and socio-political transformations of the 1990s.
In addition, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to adopt measures aiming to prevent discontent among the population with the Belarusian education system. The authorities are mobilizing those nostalgic for the USSR and propose to return to 5-marks grading system, school uniforms and reduced curriculum. The Belarusian leadership also aims to blur the growing social stratification in society and to relax social tension due to the growing income gap between the richest and poorest.
Should the authorities adopt plans to reduce university enrolment, they would re-certify universities in order to close some of them and would reduce competition from private educational institutions. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to adjust the education system to the needs of the real economy, to reduce pressure on the labour market and to cut government spending on higher education for specialists low in demand by replacing them with graduates of secondary vocational schools requiring less time to train.