Lukashenko posts top brass members on civil positions
Belarusian President keeps the dismissed members of the top brass in the public service: Lukashenko’s main goal is to minimize political risks if economy destabilizes and to secure his own power.
On October 31st, President Lukashenko appointed former Deputy Minister for Emergency Situations A. Shamko as Sports and Tourism Minister, and nominated former State Border Committee Chairman I. Rachkovski for the First Vice-President of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus.
The main goal of the President’s personnel policy is to improve the manageability of the state apparatus and to reduce risks in case of financial crisis recurring in Belarus. Law enforcement staff, from the State Border Committee, the KGB, the Presidential Security Service, Interior Ministry, and others, who are better disciplined compared with civilians, and also the most dangerous for Lukashenka’s family (if he loses control over them) fit this purpose the best.
Publicly the President explains his staffing policy by “discipline and honesty” of the law enforcement officers, who are supposedly less prone to corruption. Chief Curator for sports in Belarus has become Vice Prime Minister A. Tozik (former Chairman of the State Control Committee). Lukashenko has publicly procrastinated former (civil) leadership of the Sport Ministry and NOC, inter alia, accusing them of corruption, which has been aired on the national television. Rachkovsky’s nomination (he was sacked last summer in connection with the so-called ‘teddy bear drop’), was likely due to Rachkovsky’s friendship with the President’s eldest son Victor.
Finally, there is a ‘historical’ reason for Lukashenko’s behaviour. It has been frequently noted, that after the 2010 presidential election, security forces have increased their influence in the government, first of all, - according to the official version – because they prevented the “coup d’etat”, secondly, they detected terrorist attack in the Minsk metro in a field investigation and prevented a ‘social networks revolution’ in Belarusian cities, etc. The law enforcement agencies have the right to count on some favours from the President, for their - albeit controversial - achievements. And Lukashenko has to provide them with such favours.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.