As the Risk of Terrorism Grows, the KGB Strengthens its Position
An explosive device detonated in a shop in Gomel city center on 19 April, no casualties have been reported. On April 26, the KGB reported a blast in Kobryn, two people died.
The KGB continues to compensate for the weakening of its position in the fight against corruption by strengthening the citizens’ security. The downside of this process is an increased risk to public safety, especially after the terrorist attack in Minsk subway.
Two explosions in public places continue the 2011 trend of increased risks to public safety. The risk has significantly grown after the terrorist attack in the Minsk subway April 11, 2011 and after the Ministry of Internal Affairs employed plain-clothed officers to prevent street protests in the summer of 2011. Also, they strengthen the domestic position of law enforcement bodies, especially of the directorate of military forces of operational designation.
There are no grounds to link the increased activity of the KGB with the growing risk for public safety. In the end, however, the law enforcement agencies benefit most as bodies entitled to prevent terrorist attacks.
The increased activity of the KGB since 2011 may also be due to the reform of the Belarusian law enforcement bodies, which took place in the second term of 2011. Thus, the powers of the KGB in conducting investigative activities were substantially limited: from 50 to 17 Articles of the Criminal Code. It is highly probable that the KGB increased their activity to compensate for the loss of power. They have significantly increased their activity aimed at protecting the regime (they supervise the unfolding parliamentary election campaign in autumn), counteract revolutions through media (classified recruitment of \"Social Network Revolution\" activists), as well as the fight against illegal migration. The main cause of the two explosions in Gomel and Kobryn is said to be a fight for control over illegal migration channels.
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.