Council of the National Revival Council of Belarus Limited to Information Work

April 22, 2016 18:13

On July 7, the Chairman of the National Revival Council Vladimir Baradach published another evaluation report on President Lukashenko’s policy via the Internet website Belaruspartisan. In his statement, he expresses fears that the Belarusian authorities are slowly putting the country on a war footing.

Comment

Despite the initial ambitions of former law enforcement officers to create a transition Belarusian government-in-exile, the initiative remains no more than a media campaign. The founders of the National Revival Council have not managed to gain political support either in Belarus or abroad. Their work is limited to information and media activities in the Internet.

Since the organising committee of the National Revival Council was presented in late May 2012, the initiative of the Belarusian former law enforcement officers who now live abroad has remained at the stage of anauction bid”.  None of the political forces in Belarus have joined the initiative so far. Also, the most known and influential political and civic movements gave it negative reviews.

Although Vladimir Baradach and Anufriy Ramanovich stress that most organisation work is carried out in secret to protect activists from the actions of the Belarusian security services, their statements only raise skepticism. The authors of the project to establish a shadow government-in-exile have set clear political goals: to change Lukashenko’s regime. However, the absence of political leaders in the project reduces the initiative’s credibility.

Members of the Revival Council have to maintain a minimal level of public interest towards their activities and they prefer to appeal to independent internet media. It should be pointed out that the main, and probably the only, spokesperson for the Council is a former special forces commander Colonel Baradach. He is famous for his extremely radical statements, for example, details of the disappearance in 1999 of the former head of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs Yuri Zakharenko (according to Baradach, Zakharenko was first tortured and then shot and burned.)

It is expected that without political support within Belarus and abroad, the founders of the National Revival Council will not be able to come up with newsworthy events. Therefore, the initiative is likely to come to nough.

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Amid budgetary cuts on social protection, the Belarusian public sector is experiencing a management crisis and a balance shift in the state resource redistribution system. The authorities are forced to revise their most unpopular decisions during the implementation due to the pressure from affected social groups. The state is unlikely to oppose to some civil society and opposition organisations in strengthening their role in society in order to retain touch with the population and to be able to respond to the most harsh criticism of state initiatives.

The Architecture and Construction Ministry has acknowledged that the decree No 585 on assistance to large and young families in building and buying housing was prematurely rescinded.

The authorities are often forced to revise their decisions on curtailing social assistance to different social groups during their implementation, without preliminary impact assessment and feedback from the population, so as they lead to the growth in social tension. Due to the centralised decision making, languishing state resources and the lack of public debate as a balancing instrument in issues related to social protection, the state administration is losing control of the population.

Perhaps, the compensatory mechanisms of the state apparatus lack the time to adjust to dwindling state resources for supporting the existing social model, even in a reduced form. The authorities have completely or partially paralysed operations of independent public institutions and representative bodies, through which they could monitor public moods and receive feedback from the population, such as local councils, the parliament, political parties and NGOs. Last year, under the pressure of the authorities, the last independent institute for measuring public sentiment, IISEPS, suspended operations.

President Lukashenka’s self-removal from the decision-making on current socio-economic issues, also could have affected the state apparatus’ operations. The president has always been very sensitive about adopting unpopular decisions which could lower his popular support, hence demanded a careful preliminary assessment of such decisions. However, recently, especially after the introduction of the tax on social dependants, the president has mainly focused on the foreign policy agenda.

Hence, a lacuna has formed in the state decision-making after the president reduced participation in the current socio-economic policy formation, which leads to an increase in manifestations of dysfunction in the public administration.