Chernobyl Path: participation as low as ever
On April 26th, the opposition held a traditionally rally ‘Chernobyl Path’ to commemorate the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, which was attended by a record low number of participants. The rally’s motto was “No to Russian nuclear threat”. In addition, this year, the government has seized the initiative and used the ‘Chernobyl Path’ brand for its own propaganda purposes (‘Chernobyl Path’ was formerly the largest mass rally organised by the opposition). The authorities have organised a series of cultural events in the Gomel region, and the regions most affected by the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, entitled “Chernobyl Path - the road of life”. By consistently raising the organisational costs for the opposition street protests (including persecution, fines, fees, municipal and police services costs, etc) the authorities have managed to minimise street activity.
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.