Lukashenko stakes on security forces
On 10 June President Lukashenko held a meeting on issues regarding the protection of the domestic market, namely, prevention of export of Belarusian goods by citizens. The meeting was attended by the Secretary of the Security Council, Mr. Maltsev, as well as senior management of MIA, KGB, State Border Committee and Customs Committee of Belarus.
The Belarusian President continues to build a circle of executives from the law enforcement agencies around him. The Head of State is gradually introducing this new decision-making body into the political arena, as well as a new media-site for public speeches on key agenda issues.
In fact, the issue of export by individual citizens of cheap Belarusian goods for resale abroad is a matter of concern for the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Taxes and Duties, or in an extreme case for the Customs Committee, certainly not for the Security Council, Interior Ministry and the KGB.
As mentioned previously, the Head of State, following the 11 April explosion in the Minsk metro established a “Security Forces Club”, an advisory body composed of the heads of the Security Council, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Prosecutor General and the KGB. The “Club” meets regularly to discuss the course of investigation however during the second meeting on 6 May the discussion went far beyond the explosion case and focused on labor discipline at workplaces. The meeting that took place at the Security Council on 10 June can also be regarded as an extended meeting of the “Club”.
The Belarusian President is trying to create a counterweight to the Governmental team, which in the environment of financial crisis is gradually becoming the center of strategic decision-making about the development of the country. Headed by the Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich it is gaining legitimacy at the international level (please see below).
Bearing in mind the crisis of internal legitimacy of President Lukashenko following the Summit of the Heads of government belonging to EurAsEC and the Customs Union countries held in Minsk on 19 May, the President uses any opportunity to strengthen his domestic legitimacy. Lukashenko demonstrates that in case of deterioration of the political crisis he will rely on the time-tested personnel of the law enforcement agencies.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.