Natalia Petkevich returns to presidential team

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April 22, 2016 17:47

The main reason behind the return of Petkevich back to a position in the President Lukashenko’s team is her awareness of the shadow rules of operation of the state agencies. Moreover, Petkevich might be useful as a consultant during a possible new round of a dialogue between Minsk and the West and international institutions.

On 1 September Lukashenko appointed former First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Natalia Petkevich as Aide to the President of Belarus.

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The main reason behind the return of Petkevich back to a position in the President Lukashenko’s team is her awareness of the shadow rules of operation of the state agencies. Moreover, Petkevich might be useful as a consultant during a possible new round of a dialogue between Minsk and the West and international institutions.

Recently Petkevich spoke at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee, where she had made emotional, frank and very critical comments about the unpublished rules of redistribution of funds received from donors by the NOC through its regional offices in Belarus. Being a leader of the Belarusian Federation of skiing and snowboarding, Petkevich is responsible for working with sponsors and knows the subject well.

Current appointment of ambitious Petkevich is a downgrade, compared with her previous position in the Presidential Administration however she is close enough to fall under better control and to mitigate the negative effect of the December resignation as Deputy Head of the PA. Moreover, Petkevich has experience in working with international agencies (particularly the UN) and could be useful while Minsk is looking for new partners in the West. In particular, on 1 September Reuters disseminated information about a meeting between Prime Minister of Bulgaria Nikolai Mladenov and President Lukashenko, during which they discussed the possibility of the release of some political prisoners.

This information has been confirmed by the press service of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry however denied by the Bulgarian Embassy in Minsk. Also on 1 September 4 additional political prisoners were pardoned and released. Earlier nine political prisoners have been pardoned. All this proves the willingness of the authorities to approach closer to the EU and Washington. If this dialogue process fails, negotiations skills of Petkevich will be useful for the Belarusian authorities.

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