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.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.