Council of the National Revival Council of Belarus Limited to Information Work
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.
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 an “auction 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.
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.