NGO “Belaya Rus” [White Russia] aims for politics
On 12 August in Shklov Speaker of the upper chamber of the Belarusian Parliament of Belarus Alexander Rubinov called for the transformation of the republican public association “Belaya Rus” into a party.
The idea of transformation of an NGO “Belaya Rus” into a political party has been supported at the highest level and now waits to be approved by the President. However, even if the party is established, the likelihood of its participation in the Parliamentary elections in 2012 is low because of the growing influence of the security forces in the state apparatus in 2011.
Rubinov’s statement implies that the transformation of the NGO “Belaya Rus” into a political party is supported by the two major government authorities: Parliament and Presidential Administration. In 2006-2008 Rubinov occupied position of the Deputy Head of the PA, however since December 2010 this post is occupied by an acting Chairman of the “Belya Rus” qua-NGO Alexander Radkov, who had also advocated for the transformation of the NGO into a party previously.
The most rational argument in favour of the creation of a party of the ruling power is declining popularity of the President amid economic crisis and increased distrust of the population to the governmental bodies of Belarus. Independent polls show that the President had 35.7% of Belarusians trusting him in June (27.7% to the Parliament).
President had 35.7% of Belarusians trusting him in June (27.7% to the Parliament). The party in this case would play a role of a “safety cushion” for the government during the crisis period and with assistance of the state media propaganda would attempt to improve its image and rating.
One of the constraining factors vis-?-vis the creation of such party is general reluctance of President Lukashenko to conduct any political reforms that could undermine his authority. A party based on “Belaya Rus” qua-NGO would inevitably raise the question of its participation in the Parliamentary elections in 2012 that will require transformation of the Belarusian electoral system from proportional to majoritarian or mixed. In April 2011 the President has already strongly opposed to the reform of the kind on the eve of elections.
Another constraining factor is the sharply increasing influence of the Belarusian security forces following the events of 19 December 2010. They are interested in preserving the status quo and do not welcome new political structures in the country. The more so they are the least interested in the electoral reform, which would create grounds for the formation of political blocks in the Parliament. Current situation suits the security forces perfectly: they are already empowered to take decisions on a broad number of issues inside the government, for instance, concerning regulation of imports.
Therefore the proposal voiced by Rubinov in Shklov [hometown of President Lukashenko] will be developing by inertia. The Speaker made his statement during “dead” holiday season and will be forgotten, while President Alexander Lukashenko will continue supporting the formation of other institutions of under his authority, such as Investigation Committee.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.