President uses Security Service as training ground for security forces management
The President’s Security Service is the workforce pool for the law enforcement agencies. The majority of those who started their careers in the President’s Security Service have later become top brass in other law enforcement agencies or government agencies, such as the Interior Ministry, the KGB and the Presidential Administration. However, President Lukashenko prevents them from gaining too much influence by frequent reshuffles. Some, after falling out of favour with Lukashenko, have been forced to resign and leave Belarus to seek employment in Russia.
President Lukashenko has appointed former head of the President’s Security Service Colonel Vtyurin as Deputy Security Council Secretary.
Since 1994, the President’s Security Service has had eight leaders. Andrei Vtyurin was the longest-serving head of the superstructure – for seven years (since 2007), which could indicate President Lukashenko’s trust in him. Unlike for many, Vtyurin’s career was void of scandals associated with his name. He started in the Interior Ministry, where he held various positions, then was promoted to lead the presidential bodyguards before becoming the Security Service head.
Five of eight former presidential security service heads were promoted to lead other law enforcement agencies or the presidential administration. President Lukashenko ensures that the security forces personnel is regularly rotated thus generating their loyalty. Neither does he allow the law enforcement officers to grow into influential high-level positions. Interestingly, many security officials from the President’s circle are either non-Belarusians by origin, or have close ties with Moscow. Due to such contacts, they often continue their career in Russia after falling out with President Lukashenko.
Before becoming the KGB Chairman, Leonid Erin headed the Presidential Security Service (for about a month). However, after a meeting with the opposition leaders during a protest rally in 2004, he lost Lukashenko’s trust and was prompted to resign and go back to Russia.
Yury Zhadobin headed the Presidential Security Service in 2003-2007. His career was more successful – firstly, he was promoted to chair the KGB (2007-2008), then appointed as State Secretary of the Security Council (2008-2009) and finally became the Defence Minister in 2009.
Gennady Nevyglas headed the PSS in 2000-2001. In 2001 he was appointed as Security Council Secretary and in 2006 as Presidential Administration head (2006-2008). In 2008 he was dismissed for the failure to ensure security during the Independence Day celebrations – when a bomb exploded in the crowd during a concert. In 2011, however, President Lukashenko had a change of heart and appointed Nevyglas as Deputy Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Vladimir Naumov headed the Presidential Security Service in a difficult period for the Belarusian leadership - from January 1999 to September 2000. At that time the opposition attempted to organise alternative presidential elections and several prominent opposition figures had disappeared. Naumov headed the Interior Ministry from 2001 to 2009. After retirement in 2009, he found a job in Russia as one of the advisors to the “Russian Technologies” Director General.
Ahead of the 2015 presidential campaign, Lukashenko is likely to reshuffle his power structures or the presidential administration and former head of the Presidential Security Service Vtyurin has good chances to strengthen his positions.
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.