Parliamentary campaign coincided with increased repressions
The Belarusian authorities demonstrate to the West that they do not want any interference with the election campaign. Increased repressions against Belarusian journalists working for European media meant to counteract the EU threats to extend sanctions against Belarusian officials and businessmen.
On June 18th, President Lukashenko set the date for elections to the National Assembly. On June 21-22, two journalists working for Belarusian foreign media were arrested: Mr. Poczobut and Mr. Sverdlov.
Announcement of the Parliamentary elections date in Belarus had no impact on the domestic political situation. Pressure on opposition activists and civil society is not released. In fact, the amount of pressure on independent media journalists has increased sharply.
In particular, during last week two journalists, working for foreign media were arrested in Belarus: Andrzey Poczobut and Pavel Sverdlov. As well, security officials have organized a demonstrative surveillance of the European Radio for Belarus offices. Criminal proceeding initiated against Poczobut envisage up to 5 years of imprisonment.
Most likely, with these actions against journalists the Belarusian authorities attempted to respond to a statement by Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Co-operation and OSCE, European External Action Service Mr. Wiegand that the EU could expand sanctions against Belarus. On June 18th this information was published in the EUObserver. Prompt and rigid reaction of Minsk indicates that country’s senior management has no double thoughts about resuming a dialogue on the EU conditions.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.