Security forces gain more influence on redistribution of languishing state resources
Amid weakening influence of large businessmen from the president’s inner circle, the security forces have enhanced their positions. In all likelihood, the government has decided to redistribute increasingly scarce resources and strip businesses of some profits nesting on public resources. As the economic situation deteriorates, the competition for resources is likely to increase along with the influence of security bodies.
Last week, at a briefing, KGB Chairman Valery Vakulchik said that further criminal inquiries and arrests were to come.
Amid several devaluations, economic recession and languishing public resources, business environment in Belarus has deteriorated, which has bolstered withdrawal of capital from the country. In all likelihood, redistribution of increasingly scarce resources may affect the president’s inner circle. And security forces are likely to play a major role in such a redistribution.
Security forces have somewhat lost their influence as Belarus engaged in normalization of relations with the EU. According to some analysts, the MFA’s weight has been growing consistently. Despite occasional tough actions against journalists, a more systematic attempt to disrupt the Belarusian-European relations could end in dismissals in the law enforcement leadership.
Nevertheless, the law enforcement is beginning to recover its lost positions. Instead of fighting against the possible "colour revolution" and persecuting the opposition, the security forces have focused on tracing financial flows and engaged in the redistribution of public resources.
Some analysts believe, that detention of businessman Yuri Chizh was the KGB’s independent initiative. According to them, head of ‘Triple’ holding Yuri Chizh was not a member of the inner circle, requiring the security forces to obtain the president’s consent for prosecution, which is unlikely.
Most likely, the KGB head provided President Lukashenka with evidence that Yuri Chizh had attempted to transfer his assets abroad and had a plan to move his businesses to a more favourable environment in Lithuania or Poland. KGB Chairman Vakulchik revealed some details about the detention of the disgraced businessman, who was attempting to escape from the country at 220 km per hour, which, incidentally, could be a figurative statement, "an ‘Interception’ plan was applied. He was driving firstly to the west towards the Lithuanian border, then towards the Brest highway”.
That said, last year’s detention of Yuri Chizh’s close business partner, Yaprintsev, who was well aware of all ‘Triple’ affairs, could have indeed been a signal to Chizh to accelerate withdrawal of his capital.
Recently, the Belarusian security forces have held several arrests of large businessman and more are likely to come. In addition, status and belonging to the highest echelons of power are no longer guarantees against prosecution in Belarus.
In October 2015, the third member of the Council of the Republic, the owner of Biokom company, Andrei Pavlovsky, was stripped of parliamentary immunity. However, within a month, he was released and recently pardonedby President Lukashenka after repaying USD 20 million to the state. In addition, media reported about the detention of yet another major businessman, the owner of Servolux group of companies, Evgeny Baskin.
Apparently, the law enforcement agencies have received the green light to reshuffle all large and medium-sized businesses, which nests on public resources. The security agents are likely to have sufficient information to strip most businesses of ‘excessive’ revenues.
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.