Minsk carries out execution amid normalization of relations with European Union
According to the Amnesty International, Belarusian authorities have executed 22-year-old Belarusian Sergei Ivanov after a break since November 2014 (death sentences were handed down but not executed). Official Minsk took a pause in executions, which allowed avoiding additional tension in the process of normalisation with the EU. It is worth noting that in early 2016, the Belarusian authorities demonstrated willingness to engage in a dialogue with European institutions over the introduction of a moratorium or abolishing the death penalty, however with no real intent to change the existing practice. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities are satisfied with the level and the pace of normalisation of the Belarusian-European relations. Minsk is likely to attempt to expand the room for manoeuvre in relations with the European Union before the parliamentary elections in Belarus.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.