Local elections: authorities ensure candidates’ nomination in all districts
On February 10th, the nomination of candidates to local councils was completed. In many districts, the authorities faced difficulties in nominating their own candidates to the local councils.
Only 3% of the candidates were nominated through party lists, opposition candidates made up 1.6% of all candidates. So far, the authorities havesuccessfully addressed the local elections’ two mutually exclusive tasks – ensuring local councils consist of pro-governmental candidates and keeping the profile of local elections low by providing minimal media coverage.
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.