Lukashenko stakes on security forces

April 22, 2016 17:47

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.

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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.

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The Belarusian authorities are attempting to strengthen some elements of the ‘Soviet’ education to ensure the ideological loyalty of new generations to the state. Most likely, one of the major tasks of the educational reform is to prevent growing discontent with the existing education system among the population. The educational reform aims to strengthen centralisation and adjust the system to the needs of the public sector.

In Belarus, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Economy would determine the university enrolment figures.

The Belarusian authorities do not seem to have a long-term vision of the educational reform. The education system changes depending on who leads the Education Ministry and has access to President Lukashenka. For instance, former head of pro-government communist party and Education Minister Igor Karpenko reintroduced some "Soviet" elements to the school and strengthened ideological components along with the de-politicisation of the curricula. Current generation of students and youth have not spoken against the authorities, unlike previous generations raised during the Gorbachev thaw and socio-political transformations of the 1990s.

In addition, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to adopt measures aiming to prevent discontent among the population with the Belarusian education system. The authorities are mobilizing those nostalgic for the USSR and propose to return to 5-marks grading system, school uniforms and reduced curriculum. The Belarusian leadership also aims to blur the growing social stratification in society and to relax social tension due to the growing income gap between the richest and poorest.

Should the authorities adopt plans to reduce university enrolment, they would re-certify universities in order to close some of them and would reduce competition from private educational institutions. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to adjust the education system to the needs of the real economy, to reduce pressure on the labour market and to cut government spending on higher education for specialists low in demand by replacing them with graduates of secondary vocational schools requiring less time to train.