Industrial modernisation poses new challenges
Workers at Gomeloboi factory [Gomel Wallpaper factory] have filed a complaint to the regional head and to the Presidential Administration about overloaded warehouses at the enterprise and its negative impact.
Recently, the factory underwent modernisation and purchased two costly production lines for vinyl wallpaper. In 2013 President Lukashenko launched a large-scale modernisation process (which de facto means replacing obsolete equipment with modern equivalents), which has not resulted in any economic improvements. Ahead of the presidential elections in 2015, the Belarusian authorities will increasingly resort to manual steering of the economy, without considering structural economic reforms, and will hold the heads of industrial enterprises responsible for social issues arising from the derailed modernisation in the country.
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.