Officials unable to organize active resistance to state apparatus reform
On July 2nd, the National Intellectual Property Center staff published an open letter on the Centre’s website, expressing regret about striping them off civil servants status.
The state apparatus reform is painful, but it is totally under control of its initiators in the ruling group. Rare resistance cases to the reform reflect the overall inability of officials to actively oppose it.
In an open letter the Center’s staff deplored the deprivation of their civil servant status and called the decision ‘insane’, since the Center deals with national importance issues (development and adoption of standards in the national intellectual property system). The letter also stated that on June 28th management and some Center staff resigned, refusing to continue working in the new environment.
On the same day information came through that the government is preparing a special resolution to increase the salaries the Centre’s staff and that the government will not revise its decision regarding Centre’s staff status. The open letter soon was taken off the Centre’s website.
This case is demonstrative of how Belarusian officials react to the ongoing state apparatus reform. Firstly, officials’ protests are passive: people prefer resigning quietly to contesting reforms’ principles. Secondly, the most active protest form is public appeals, which is a clear sign that the situation is hopeless and that the issue had failed to be resolved behind the scenes.
Thus, the ruling group is firmly in control of the reform progress and may not worry about the organized resistance and sabotage by the dismissed officials. Simultaneously, the government has an effective compensation tool – pay rises to those whose interests were harmed and who protested mildly.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.