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.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.