Outcomes for 2015, Forecast for 2016
Outcomes for 2015: a deep recession and dim prospects for economic recovery
Forecast for 2016: conservation outguns innovation
Most important trends in 2015
- Conservation of the socio-economic model
- Increased demand for systemic transformations in the Belarusian society, especially in the economy
- People’s expectations of the state’s social protection lowered
- The state cut social guarantees to the population
- Some political elite acknowledged recession and the need for reforms
- The government divided into supporters of market reforms and antireform conservatives
- Reduced capacity for mobilisation for both, the authorities and the opposition
- Cautious neutrality in foreign policy
- Minsk earned a reputation of a peacekeeper
- Enhanced attention to national security
Main threats in 2016
- Tensions and protest moods in society will rise due to falling living standards and a cutback on social protection
- Deeper economic recession due to the lack of political will to reform the existing socio-economic model
- The Kremlin will step up pressure to deploy a Russian military air base in Belarus in exchange for financial aid and loans
- Amid dwindling state resources and fewer opportunities to distribute budgetary and export flow of funds, conflicts in nomenclature and state sidekick businesses will mount
- Minsk and Brussels will exhaust potential for reciprocal concessions in the process of Belarusian-European normalization
Most likely trends for 2016
- The state will imitate reforms in order to obtain external financing
- The likelihood of real economic reforms will depend on oil prices’ dynamics
- The state apparatus will step up the struggle for the redistribution of resources
- The opposition will reshape before the parliamentary elections
- Minsk will anchor its peacekeeping reputation and neutrality on the international arena
- Belarus will evade direct involvement in inter-state conflicts on the Russian side
- The authorities will abandon practices of supporting employment at any cost
- Industrial production capacity will continue to reduce
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.