Lukashenka mobilizes territorial troops
Belarusian authorities are seriously afraid of growing social protests in the regions and started to take countermeasures. They don’t have enough resources to increase salaries, as demanded by people, so, in order to stop the wave of dissatisfaction they have started to use coercive measures.
On the 3rd and 4th of November, Lukashenka visited a number of centers of territorial defense in Minsk and Grodno regions.
Belarusian authorities are seriously afraid of growing social protests in the regions and started to take countermeasures. They don’t have enough resources to increase salaries as demanded by people, so, in order to stop the wave of dissatisfaction they have started to use coercive measures.
Belarusian authorities are seriously afraid of growing social protests in the regions and started to take countermeasures.
A number of loud statements from Lukashenka concerning mobilization of territorial troops, where the reserve military personnel is mobilized in case of danger, should be understood not in the military, but in the political sense. At the present moment, the largest threat for the Belarusian government is represented not by external military menace, but by social protests of workers at regional enterprises, which stand against a decline in welfare and demand an increase in wages, in order to compensate for the price rises.
It is the desire to keep control over the social situation on the local level that prompted the President to make a trip to the regions. In September-October, at least 3 cases of strikes took place at the enterprises of Vitebsk, Svetlogorsk and Borisov, also there was a pre-strike situation at the railway carriage repair works in Gomel. At the same time, the Belarusian Ruble continued to weaken at the stock exchange, the probability to receive external credit help is very low, and the level of prices in the country continues to grow.
The Belarusian authorities are losing the ability to control the situation by economic means and predictably resort to force – strengthening the control over the heads of the regions and directors of state and private enterprises. That is why on November 3rd, all Belarusian governors received the rank of major generals, and during the visit to Minsk Headquarters of Territorial Defense the President gave a clear signal to regional businesses that they need to cooperate with the state. After that, in Grodno, Lukashenka ordered the Ministry of the Interior and to KGB to prevent the unrests at enterprises.
The Belarusian authorities are losing the ability to control the situation by economic means and predictably resort to force – strengthening the control over the heads of the regions and directors of state and private enterprises.
In addition, the President is sending a clear message to his external and internal opponents that he is ready to protect his power even with a grenade launcher in his hands (the press-service made a corresponding picture of him). Also, the President de facto provided KGB and the Ministry of the Interior with a carte-blanche to make tougher their activity on prevention of extremism, without any respect to international commitments of Belarus in the sphere of Human Rights protection. The President stated that he takes upon himself all the responsibility for such actions.
The last statement should not be perceived as the beginning of a new campaign to eliminate political opponents – such a campaign has been going on at least since December 19, 2010. The words of the President Lukashenka aim to lessen the weight of responsibility of his subordinates for the violations of law and Human Rights. The symbolic transfer of responsibility for the activities of Belarusian law-enforcement and special agencies personally to the President, in opinion of Lukashenka, will help him to keep internal legitimacy and strengthen the loyalty of his subordinates.
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to strengthen some elements of the ‘Soviet’ education to ensure the ideological loyalty of new generations to the state. Most likely, one of the major tasks of the educational reform is to prevent growing discontent with the existing education system among the population. The educational reform aims to strengthen centralisation and adjust the system to the needs of the public sector.
In Belarus, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Economy would determine the university enrolment figures.
The Belarusian authorities do not seem to have a long-term vision of the educational reform. The education system changes depending on who leads the Education Ministry and has access to President Lukashenka. For instance, former head of pro-government communist party and Education Minister Igor Karpenko reintroduced some "Soviet" elements to the school and strengthened ideological components along with the de-politicisation of the curricula. Current generation of students and youth have not spoken against the authorities, unlike previous generations raised during the Gorbachev thaw and socio-political transformations of the 1990s.
In addition, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to adopt measures aiming to prevent discontent among the population with the Belarusian education system. The authorities are mobilizing those nostalgic for the USSR and propose to return to 5-marks grading system, school uniforms and reduced curriculum. The Belarusian leadership also aims to blur the growing social stratification in society and to relax social tension due to the growing income gap between the richest and poorest.
Should the authorities adopt plans to reduce university enrolment, they would re-certify universities in order to close some of them and would reduce competition from private educational institutions. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to adjust the education system to the needs of the real economy, to reduce pressure on the labour market and to cut government spending on higher education for specialists low in demand by replacing them with graduates of secondary vocational schools requiring less time to train.