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.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.