The power elite elaborate defense mechanisms
New type elite are formed in Belarus from security forces: from representatives of the Investigative Committee and the KGB in particular. This small elite group is concentrated around President Lukashenko.
On June 28th, police offices, which will work for the Investigation Committee, have graduated from the Police Academy. The alumni were welcomed by the IC Chairman Mr. Vakulchik personally. However, the Academy is not planning to open admission for new students to study “investigative activity”.
Exclusion of the Police Academy from the number of schools providing training for future staff of investigative bodies confirms the previously marked trend: the formation of an elite group from Belarusian law enforcers around President Lukashenko’s family. To date, the security forces the most influential and close to the President are the newly created Investigative Committee and the KGB.
Training of investigators will be carried out by the ‘elite’ Management Academy under the auspices of the President, not by the Police Academy. This educational institution will train future staff of the Investigation Committee, Mr. Vakulchik said earlier. Following the reform of law enforcement agencies in 2011, the IC, and partly the KGB have the exclusive right to investigate corruption cases, which has dramatically increased these agencies’ importance and upgraded the status of its employees.
Finally, an attempt to narrow the power elite circle is observed in the judiciary. Earlier, Belarus’ Supreme Court Deputy Chairman Mr. Kondrat’ev proposed to transfer cases against security forces staff under the military courts’ jurisdiction. If successful, this initiative will make Belarusian power elite even less transparent and “safer” from the security forces’ perspective.
Amid budgetary cuts on social protection, the Belarusian public sector is experiencing a management crisis and a balance shift in the state resource redistribution system. The authorities are forced to revise their most unpopular decisions during the implementation due to the pressure from affected social groups. The state is unlikely to oppose to some civil society and opposition organisations in strengthening their role in society in order to retain touch with the population and to be able to respond to the most harsh criticism of state initiatives.
The Architecture and Construction Ministry has acknowledged that the decree No 585 on assistance to large and young families in building and buying housing was prematurely rescinded.
The authorities are often forced to revise their decisions on curtailing social assistance to different social groups during their implementation, without preliminary impact assessment and feedback from the population, so as they lead to the growth in social tension. Due to the centralised decision making, languishing state resources and the lack of public debate as a balancing instrument in issues related to social protection, the state administration is losing control of the population.
Perhaps, the compensatory mechanisms of the state apparatus lack the time to adjust to dwindling state resources for supporting the existing social model, even in a reduced form. The authorities have completely or partially paralysed operations of independent public institutions and representative bodies, through which they could monitor public moods and receive feedback from the population, such as local councils, the parliament, political parties and NGOs. Last year, under the pressure of the authorities, the last independent institute for measuring public sentiment, IISEPS, suspended operations.
President Lukashenka’s self-removal from the decision-making on current socio-economic issues, also could have affected the state apparatus’ operations. The president has always been very sensitive about adopting unpopular decisions which could lower his popular support, hence demanded a careful preliminary assessment of such decisions. However, recently, especially after the introduction of the tax on social dependants, the president has mainly focused on the foreign policy agenda.
Hence, a lacuna has formed in the state decision-making after the president reduced participation in the current socio-economic policy formation, which leads to an increase in manifestations of dysfunction in the public administration.