Favorable conditions for reorganisation of security business created in Belarus
Fights between customers and security guards occurred in a number of shopping centres in Belarus this summer.
Acts of violence involving customers and security guards provide the state with an additional leverage to influence private retail chain stores - primarily in terms of employment of dismissed employees of the Ministry of the Interior. So far the state has not taken active steps in this area.
A young man was beaten up by the guards in one of the stores of the Minsk ‘Korona’ chain at the beginning of May and, as a result, the young man lost his ability to work. A customer was beaten up by the guards in the ‘Volgograd’ supermarket in the capital in June, and this lead to the customer’s death in hospital. Two customers were beaten up in one of the ‘Evroopt’ stores of Gomel in August.
The typical characteristic of all these incidents is the initial conflict between guards and customers as a reason for violence on the part of store security guards. Moreover, in all these cases criminal proceedings were instigated by prosecutors and the Investigation Committee. Finally, the mentioned stores are private enterprises (‘Volgograd Department Stores’ private company) and are a part of large, private commercial chains (‘Korona’ and ‘Evroopt’ stores). Finally, all these incidents were widely publicised via photos and video footage as well as testimonies of eye-witnesses put on the Internet.
Thus, in practice favorable conditions are created for ‘protection of citizens’ by the state and interfering into activities of private enterprises. Such actions were undertaken by the authorities after the patient’s death in one of the private cosmetic surgery clinics of Minsk in spring - extensive checks of the entire healthcare industry were subsequently conducted. However, active steps on the part of the authorities such as the revision of the rules of the organisation of paramilitary security in private enterprises have not been taken.
Nonetheless, it is probable that the described cases of unprofessional conduct of the security guards in shopping centers and stores can be used as an excuse by the authorities. The ongoing reform of the state apparatus includes significant staff reduction (by 20 % in accordance with the unofficial data) in a number of state agencies, including the Ministry of the Interior. In this case, public disclosure of the facts of unprofessional conduct of the security guards can be used as an excuse to conduct forced ‘professionalisation’ of the area of private paramilitary security services in the Republic of Belarus including recruitment of former employees of the Ministry of the Interior.
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.