Lukashenka intervened in situation around NPP incident to relieve tension in Belarusian society
The president personally intervened in the situation around the incident at the Belarusian nuclear power plant construction site, in order to repair reputational damage caused by Belarusian bureaucrats. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to preserve Minsk’s image as one of the crucial players in regional security vis-a-vis Western capitals. The Belarusian authorities are likely to make every effort to prevent the growth in distrust in public institutions by the Belarusian population and to ensure better transparency in the Belarusian NPP construction.
President Lukashenka has proposed to the outgoing Lithuanian Ambassador to think together about how to operate the Belarusian NPP.
The Belarusian authorities’ attempt to shift responsibility for the incident at the NPP construction site on to Russia has only exacerbated fears about nuclear safety in Belarus. Nuclear safety is one of the most sensitive topics in Belarusian society, which has not yet fully recovered from the Chernobyl aftermath. Actions of the Belarusian authorities have prompted the population to recall the behaviour of the Soviet government, which concealed information about the catastrophe in Chernobyl.
Lukashenka’s statement about him knowing about the incident immediately after it happened at the NPP construction site is aiming to enhance public confidence in the Belarusian NPP construction. In addition, because initially the information about the incident at the most protected construction site was concealed, the Belarusian government was worried about the fall in confidence in Belarusian public institutions.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has made considerable efforts in order persuade Western capitals that Minsk plays one of the key roles in regional security. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities have realised how risky it was to shift responsibility for the incident at the NPP construction site onto the Russian partner.
The president has assumed full responsibility for the NPP construction and for the incident and said he would personally supervise the NPP construction. In addition, hoping to compensate for reputational damage from a two-week silence about the incident, President Lukashenka offered a more open cooperation with the Lithuanian partners.
The Belarusian authorities are aware of Lithuania’s influence in shaping the views of European capitals about the NPP construction in Belarus and are ready for closer cooperation with Vilnius.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.