Belarusian president continues to reshuffle senior staff, including prominent manager Semen Shapiro
Semen Shapiro was relieved of duty as Chairman of the Minsk Oblast Executive Committee due to the transfer to another job, and a few days before that decision, he was appointed to chair the Hockey Federation. Semen Shapiro is one of the prominent and successful managers in the presidential vertical, he has a vast experience in the state apparatus and has earned the president’s confidence. Previously, he headed the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture and Foodstuffs. Semen Shapiro is considered as one of the most likely candidates for the Prime Minister post, albeit he might be a way too strong player in the president’s environment. Shapiro’s dismissal has not come with any public complaints about his activity as the Head of the Minsk Oblast Executive Committee. It should be noted that Great Stone Sino-Belarusian industrial park is located in the Minsk Oblast and after the president’s visit to Beijing, he is likely to be expecting a significant increase in Chinese investments and loans. Most likely, the president is conducting his conventional personnel policy – rotates senior managers in order to keep them from forming stable nomenclature groups with own business interests.
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.