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 continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.