President reinforces ideological foundation for security forces
On July 1st President Lukashenko spoke at a meeting to celebrate Belarus’ Independence Day.
President Lukashenko remains dependent on the law enforcement bodies’ support. Simultaneously, Lukashenko’s increased defensive rhetoric opens new possibilities especially for security officials.
In his speech, Lukashenko put emphasis on a range of threats in contemporary Belarus. If in 2012 the president spoke mostly about historical perspective – Minsk liberators’ heroism against the Nazi invaders – in his recent speech he focused on political, economic, informational and ideological threats in the modern globalization era.
In particular, in his usual manner Lukashenko said that Belarus, led by him, will firmly defend its sovereignty in foreign policy, will fight for new markets and will pay particular attention to information security, including developing cooperation with China in this field. In this regard, the most interesting was Lukashenko’s statement about his coming meeting with Chinese President.
Today such typical of Lukashenko ‘defensive’ rhetoric has a very specific effect: the law enforcement agencies’ influence in the Belarus’ government is growing. The announced by the President ideology aiming at protection against external and domestic threats fits the best the security agencies, which based on this ideological foundation, improve their status in the Belarus’ political system and expand their powers.
Recently, during his visit to the Operative and Analytical Center (OAC), Lukashenko demanded from its staff to strengthen the fight against corruption. Noteworthy, the primary purpose for creation of the OAC in 2008 was telecommunication networks and data protection. In addition, the State Security Committee (KGB) has recently been empowered to control potash fertilizers’ international trade in and to carry out a large-scale inspection in the Belarus’ construction industry.
Also there is a possibility that the law enforcement agencies will be empowered to supervise other non-core areas of social and economic activity. For example, the Interior and Defense Ministries active involvement in activities to prevent and eliminate the outburst of African swine fever may well result in somewhat institutionalization of cooperation between the power and veterinary authorities.
These tendencies are part of a broader trend, implying strengthening of the security forces’ role in the decision-making in Belarus. This process has been consistently gaining momentum after the presidential election in 2010. Consequently, country’s law enforcement agencies grow in number at a pace one new structure per year, and the degree of interdependence between the president and the security forces is only increasing.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.