President appointed top management of the Investigative Committee
The major challenge President Lukashenko faces while deciding on the personnel of the Investigative Committee is how to keep the balance among the power elites. The key for the continuation of the political career of Lukashenko is not to become a hostage of the elites, close to his eldest son, Viktor.
On 28 November President Lukashenko appointed three deputy heads of the Investigative Committee and 5 heads of its regional offices. Heads of the IC branches of Mogilev and Gomel have not been appointed yet.
As anticipated, while deciding on the staffing of the IC, Aleksandr Lukashenko rests upon the law enforcement agencies the least influenced by his eldest son, Viktor, i.e. on the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Interior. Representatives of these two agencies occupied the above mentioned positions in the IC.
Another agency which is not influenced by Viktor Lukashenko, where Alexander Lukashenko seeks for additional support, is the Ministry of Defense. Since summer 2011 the President has been increasingly and cautiously active in this regard, for instance, he discussed with military officials an idea of creation of an informal “Captains’ Club”, as well, he promotes career advancements of officers of the military justice.
As we have noted, the desire of Lukashenko to ensure support inside the military was reflected in the appointment of a former military judge A. Konyukov as the Prosecutor General and a curator of the IC on 20 September. Lukashenko’s stake on the military is indirectly manifested by the appointment of the top management of the IC on 28 November, when he also stated that the IC should become a paramilitary structure ensuring the national security of Belarus.
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to strengthen some elements of the ‘Soviet’ education to ensure the ideological loyalty of new generations to the state. Most likely, one of the major tasks of the educational reform is to prevent growing discontent with the existing education system among the population. The educational reform aims to strengthen centralisation and adjust the system to the needs of the public sector.
In Belarus, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Economy would determine the university enrolment figures.
The Belarusian authorities do not seem to have a long-term vision of the educational reform. The education system changes depending on who leads the Education Ministry and has access to President Lukashenka. For instance, former head of pro-government communist party and Education Minister Igor Karpenko reintroduced some "Soviet" elements to the school and strengthened ideological components along with the de-politicisation of the curricula. Current generation of students and youth have not spoken against the authorities, unlike previous generations raised during the Gorbachev thaw and socio-political transformations of the 1990s.
In addition, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to adopt measures aiming to prevent discontent among the population with the Belarusian education system. The authorities are mobilizing those nostalgic for the USSR and propose to return to 5-marks grading system, school uniforms and reduced curriculum. The Belarusian leadership also aims to blur the growing social stratification in society and to relax social tension due to the growing income gap between the richest and poorest.
Should the authorities adopt plans to reduce university enrolment, they would re-certify universities in order to close some of them and would reduce competition from private educational institutions. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to adjust the education system to the needs of the real economy, to reduce pressure on the labour market and to cut government spending on higher education for specialists low in demand by replacing them with graduates of secondary vocational schools requiring less time to train.