Public officials are encouraged to ensure high turnout in local elections
On February 20th, the amendments to the Law, envisaging the possibility for a public organization to be transformed into a political party, took effect.
Functionaries from the ‘Belaya Rus’ quango managed to lobby the adoption of these amendments in late 2013. In fact, the public association ‘Belaya Rus’ has been trying to become the ‘party of power’ since 2007, albeit unsuccessfully. As a rule, ‘Belaya Rus’ was strengthening its lobby ahead of the election campaigns in Belarus. President Lukashenko has no interest in such a political force emerging – he has been forced to make this symbolic concession to his officials. In response, during the 2014 local elections campaign ‘Belaya Rus’ will be responsible for ensuring high voter turnout on election day.
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.