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.
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.