Opposition is against the nomenclature privatization
On March 15th several members of the Belarus’ Supreme Council of the 13th convocation signed a petition against the so-called “nomenclature privatization” in Belarus. The meeting was chaired by the United Civic Party Chairman Lyabedzka and the Belarusian Leftist Party “Fair World” Chairman Kalyakin.
The joint statement by members of the Belarus’ last legitimate parliament is an important political capital. However, the ex-deputies’ ability to influence the situation in the country is rather symbolic than political. Their resolutions are therefore easily ignored by the ruling group.
There is a strong view that in the Belarus’ modern history the Supreme Soviet of the 13th convocation was the last legitimate authority before the constitutional reforms were undertaken by President Lukashenko by 1996 referendum (in violation of the Constitution). This legal conflict was successfully neutralized by the strong presidential authority and suppressed by the state propaganda.
However, in principle, there is still the opportunity to restore the law which has been violated 17 years ago, and the joint statement by the Supreme Soviet deputies of the 13th convocation intended to draw attention to this. In particular, as a ‘weapon’ the deputies chose an extremely sensitive issue for the Belarusian elite – the ownership issue: illegitimate Belarusian authorities are not entitled to dispose of public property. Therefore the petition’s authors promise to review the deals with strategic enterprises after the rule of law is restored in Belarus.
In practical terms, the probability of restoring the law and the parliamentary power continuity in Belarus is very small, because president Lukashenko remains the key figure in the managerial elites system that he had created in Belarus. Also note the initiative’s ambiguity: doubts about the Belarusian nomenclature’s legitimacy effectively marginalize the authors of the statement. Since 1996 there were five convocations of the Parliament in Belarus and a whole new generation of nomenclature groups.
The authors clearly understood the risk of their marginalization and therefore focused only on the infeasibility of privatization of large strategic businesses, not all. Moreover, the opposition’s demand is generally consistent with the president Lukashenko’s current policies, de facto banning the privatization of Belarusian assets, and even creating the conditions for re-privatization.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.