Civil society in Belarus is increasing its influence
On May 7th, Minsk City Executive Committee refused to enter into a contract for the construction of a recreational centre in the centre of Minsk.
Protests against the compact construction become an important factor in the civil society formation and consolidation in the capital. These developments had non-political nature.
The Minsk City Executive Committee’s non-approval of a construction project to be implemented in a green area in the city centre was a result of protests by about a thousand local residents who sent their appeals to the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Control Committee asking to abandon the project.
This movement’s mobilization potential is fairly large, given its non-political nature. As a rule, such protests are carried out as pickets and collective appeals to the authorities. In particular, one of these appeals - against the residential building construction on the playground in Tsnianskaya Street - was signed by circa three housand people.
Citizens’ protests and the Minsk City Executive Committee’s decision to waive the construction project do not necessarily have a cause-effect relationship. But clearly, Minsk residents’ civil activity is increasing. In particular, in early April, a number of community initiatives, advocating against sporadic commercial development in vaious Minsk districts signed a memorandum of cooperation.
Organizational core of this residents’ movement is non-registered public association “Evroperspektiva”, which was denied registration by the Justice Ministry two times. The association is led by Victor Yanchurevich, a candidate for Parliament’s Deputy in 2012.
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.