“Doctors’ case” will complicate Belarusian experts’ participation in international exchange programs
The Belarus’ General Prosecutor’s Office carries out large-scale inspection of leading medical care staff on corruption suspicions, Narodnaya Volya newspaper reports.
The pressure on the Belarusian doctors will complicate the development of international expert dialogue and exchange programmes in Belarus. Simultaneously, the Belarusian security forces demonstrate a high interest in international cooperation issues.
The newspaper reports, that since early 2013 more than 150 medical healthcare experts, including eminent physicians, were summoned to the prosecutor’s office. The investigation is based on the European Anti-Monopoly Committee’s inquiry materials and refers to the facts of malicious cooperation between state healthcare employees and foreign pharmaceutical companies in public procurement.
In particular, the prosecutor’s office is interested in Belarusian medical specialists’ participation in international seminars and conferences organized with the support of major pharmaceutical corporations. The information about launched criminal cases has not yet been disclosed and the General Prosecutor’s Office refused to comment on the inspection.
On the one hand, whether criminal cases are launched or not, the ongoing inspection will objectively reduce the opportunities for development of international exchange programmes for specialists and government officials in Belarus. In particular, professional exchange programmes making a part of the Eastern Partnership Programme and the “European Dialogue on modernization with Belarusian civil society” and affecting energy, public administration, privatization, and other spheres.
On the other hand, the Prosecutor General’s Office checks, based on the European Anti-Monopoly Committee’s materials, confirm the Belarusian law enforcement agencies’ interest in international cooperation. In particular, On May 20th-24th Minsk hosted a meeting of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, and the international association of financial intelligence services ‘Egmont’.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.