Conflicts within ruling group result in contradicting laws
On March 30th, the government issued a regulation No 241 “Small and Medium Enterprises Development in Belarus”, which bans the revision of state property privatization results.
Conflict of interest between President Lukashenko and the Government head Myasnikovich, as well as the need to comply with the international obligations on privatization force the government to implement palliative measures. In general such behaviour has a negative impact on the Belarus’ investment attractiveness and reduces international financing opportunities.
The ban on the privatization results’ revision should be regarded as a Government’s attempt to mitigate President Lukahsenko’s harsh line. The latter has not only revised privatization results (Kommunarka and Spartak cases), but also created the legal grounds for public intervention in the operation of a private enterprise in the future (amendments to the law on privatization were introduced, enabling minority shareholders’ interests to be represented by state agencies).
Formally, the Government’s proposal aimed at protecting private property and investors’ rights, and is consistent with the adopted in 2010 Presidential Directive No 4 “Development of entrepreneurship and stimulating business activity in Belarus”. But in reality, since 2011, Belarus’ state policy aimed at purposeful limitation of private investors’ rights in favor of expanded state’s authority to interfere in private property matters – regardless, of the reached international agreements.
In particular, the recent governments’ initiative reflects Prime Minister Myasnikovich’s desire to fulfill government’s obligations within the planned Belarusian state property privatization programme, linked with the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund’s loan. Myasnikovich was in charge of the loan agreement in 2011, and a co-signatory, along with the then Russian Prime Minister Putin.
Presumably, the President considers these privatization plans, not only as a threat to his authority, but also as a platform for Myasnikovich to gain political influence. Therefore Lukashenko initiated a privatization legislation review, and a media attack against Prime Minister Myasnikovich. So far, Lukashenko wins in this confrontation.
However, even if Myasnikovich is dismissed, the main issue will remain unresolved: what are the funding sources for the Belarusian economic model in the future? Clearly, this issue is much less important for the ruling group than the issue of power preservation by them.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.