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.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.