Lukashenko’s PR Managers Introduce his Middle Son into the World of Business
On May 16, Dmitry Lukashenko, the middle son of President Lukashenko, and businessman Yuri Chizh were among the Belarusian BelAZ factory delegation to Russia.
The method chosen to introduce Dmitry Lukashenko into public life proves that this was an initial step to appointing him as curator of a major Belarusian business. Dmitry has been described by Russian journalists as \"a son of the President\". His connection with the BelAZ company and the purpose of the delegation remained a mystery. Nevertheless, the fact that Dmitry appeared in public in the company of a top Belarusian businessman indicates that President’s PR managers are attempting to ascribe him natural and indisputable business qualities. In an interview, Dmitry frankly said that he felt at home in the cab of a BelAZ truck. Lukashenko’s four-year-old illegitimate son Nikolai was introduced into public life in a similar way in 2000. He accompanied Lukashenko at public events and initially kept officially incognito. Then, on a TV programme, he wrote his name on the school board and thus introduced himself to the viewers. The official media avoided asking the President any questions about the birth of his child and simply took it for granted.
The professional interests of 32-year-old Dmitri Lukashenko are far from the production of BelAZ trucks or the mining industry. He heads the Presidential Sports Club and organizes sports events. However, it is clear that he is gradually going into business. The visit of the Belarusian delegation to the Kemerovo region in Russia was a response to the visit of the Kuzbass delegation to Minsk in 2011, in which Dmitry also took part. The President’s eldest son, 36-year-old Victor, is said to be an informal curator of the Belarusian security services. Out of the President’s sons, he remains the most veiled to the public attention.
There are no grounds for treating the actions of the President’s PR-managers as a strategy aimed at adding political weight to his sons. The two elder sons are likely to appear more on Belarusian TV. Also, there is no evidence to suggest that Lukashenko is preparing a successor. At present, Lukashenko does not feel the need to hand over power to anybody in the near future.
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.