President reinforces ideological foundation for security forces

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April 22, 2016 18:33

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.

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President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.

President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.

The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.

The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.

The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.