Presidential Administration goes into public
Having insured future financial stability of the country with favorable agreements with Russia, the leadership of Belarus strives to regain the loyalty of the population decreased during the currency crisis. At the same time the Presidential Administration rushes to strengthen its influence on the domestic policy against the Government.
Between 28 November and 2 December the Presidential Administration and the State Control Committee in conjunction with the Prosecutor General Office and the Security Council monitored the work of state bodies with citizens’ appeals.
A number of favorable loans and commercial agreements signed by the Belarusian authorities (about the gas price and transit, the sale of shares of “Beltransgaz”, loan for the construction of a nuclear power plant) provide the country’s leadership with a leverage to rule out the “hard lending” of the economy scenario and seize the deterioration of the living standards of Belarusians, associated with high inflation.
While visiting enterprises and labor collectives, senior management officials solve two problems at once: firstly, they send positive messages through the entire vertical of power about the end of the acute phase of the economic crisis; secondly, they strive to regain the loyalty of the population, which has declined during the currency crisis period. September sociological poll shows that loyalty to the authorities (President, Government, Parliament, law enforcement agencies) showed only 30% of the respondents. Recent activities of the authorities suggest that by the year-end the level of trust to the authorities will increase.
In 2011 this role of the Presidential Administration has been significantly weakened against the background of the increased influence of the Government: the latter stands for implementation of the strict monetary policy and for the economic development in compliance with the requirements of international organizations (the IMF and the ACF of the EurAsEC).
Along with the global challenge of gaining back the confidence of the population, the Administration responds to the local and, in fact, more urgent challenge of restoring its influence as the main domestic policy maker. In 2011 this role of the Presidential Administration has been significantly weakened against the background of the increased influence of the Government: the latter stands for implementation of the strict monetary policy and for the economic development in compliance with the requirements of international organizations (the IMF and the ACF of the EurAsEC).
Financial support and loans received by Belarus from Russia allowed the Administration to remove the issue of meeting the IMF requirements in the near future from the agenda and continue with its usual economic policies, i.e. funding of the economy via emission. The recent monitoring campaign headed by the Presidential Administration, gave the Presidential Administration and its head Vladimir Makey in particular, the opportunity to secure tactical victory over the government (representatives of the Council of Ministers were not part of the monitoring team) and to boost the popularity of President Lukashenko, who desperately needed to improve his internal political influence (in September, 61% of Belarusians blamed him for the economic crisis).
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.