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.
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.