President follows vox populi when appointing local executive heads
President Lukashenka has appointed new Head of Kryčaŭ Executive Committee following protests by local population demanding his resignation. After mass protests in the spring of this year and before the local elections, the president has become more sensitive to local people’s needs in staffing policy, especially in cases of open discontent with local leaders. In August - September, the president replaced leaders in 15 districts, and rotated staff in the regional executive committees and departments across the country. In the view of the 2017/2018 election campaign, throughout summer the Belarusian leadership monitored, trained and strengthened weak links in the power vertical, especially in the regions.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.