Despite mass lay-offs, authorities control situation with labour movement
Bobruisk-based ‘Belshina’, a state-owned tyres maker, has started mass lay-offs in connection with the modernization and narrowing markets for Belarusian products. Despite workers’ discontent, there were no protests against such policies by the management. The Belarusian authorities manage to keep protest activity among workers under control – not only due to repressions, but also because of the labour migration. Workers in the regions often leave for Minsk or go abroad, mainly to Russia, to find better-paid jobs.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.