Lukashenko gives a chance to his eldest son
On May 27th, President Lukashenko appointed KGB Chairman Valery Vakulchik and his Assistant for National Security Viktor Lukashenko to supervise the Belarusian-Russian Commission on Potash Exports from Belarus’ side.
The deficit of trusted assistants forces President Lukashenko to make appointments in the international trade based on family relation principle. Simultaneously, Lukashenko attempts to legitimize Viktor Lukashenko as supervisor of large Belarusian business and introduces Belarus’ law enforcement bodies to business.
The president’s decision to appoint his eldest son to supervise potash exports is likely explained by his desire to introduce Victor Lukashenko to large international business, which provides important foreign currency inflows to the country. In Q1 2013, potash fertilizers totaled 6.3% of the country’s exports or circa USD 609.6 million.
There are reasons to believe that this was a spontaneous decision, which was taken in the Lukashenko family circle. Previously 37-year-old Viktor Lukashenko was not noticed in the potash business. His interests traditionally related to defense exports and security issues, in particular, he was shaping the personnel policy in the Belarus’ security bodies. According to some reports, in 2008, Viktor Lukashenko advised on the appointments in some structures, for example, in the Operational and Analytical Center (V. Vakulchik) and the State Border Committee (I. Rachkovski).
Moreover, professional career of KGB Chairman Valery Vakulchik shows no evidence of his competence in potash exports. Since 2008 Vakulchik headed three security agencies - Operational and Analytical Center, the Investigative Committee and the KGB - which can be interpreted in two ways: president’s high confidence in him or his professional rootlessness.
Neither Lukashenko, nor Vakulchik have formal responsibilities in the Commission, they have observers’ status. Officially, the Commission is headed by the Development Bank Chairman Rumas. In addition, the president said that the Commission was established by agreement with the Soyzkaly owner Russian oligarch Kerimov, who requested ‘someone very influential’ to supervise the Commission.
Thus, President Lukashenko de facto established Institute of potash business curators, which can be regarded as a ‘lease on life’ for his eldest son. At the same time, Viktor does not have a reputation of a successful businessman, as well, he is a non-public figure, which increases the risks of the project’s possible failure - for example, if the supervisors fail to resolve effectively cooperation disputes between companies Belaruskali and Soyuzkali.
Finally, there are no reasons to consider this appointment a preparation for the presidency succession. The political situation in Belarus objectively forces Alexander Lukashenko to run for the president in 2015 for the fifth time and to ensure his victory. The “successor” option is only possible in case of emergency (incumbent’s illness, etc).
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.