Belarusian state makes state property less attractive by prosecuting Motovelo managers
The Court summoned Motovelo Ltd as a civil party in the criminal case against Alexander Muraviev and other former top managers of the plant. The criminal prosecution of former Motovelo owner and head of the Austrian ATEC Holding GmbH Alexander Muraviev, who ranked 36th in the top 200 successful and influential businessmen in Belarus, creates a negative investment background. It was not the first time the Belarusian authorities renationalised formerly state-owned enterprises sold to private investors. The government’s attempts to preserve and modernise large and outdated enterprises inherited from the Soviet Union at investor’s costs were futile. That was mainly due to the privatisation conditions put forward to private investors, which copied relations of the state with state managers without taking into account market relations. Criminal prosecution against former owners of Motovelo and Elizovo glassworks reduces private investors’ interest in the state property privatisation on the state’s terms.
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.