Strategic split within the Belarusian opposition into political and civic campaigns
On May 7, the court sentenced the deputy head of Tell the Truth! campaign Andrei Dzmitryeu and a member of the board Mikhail Pashkevich to 10 days in custody. On May 11, at the press- conference a co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party Vital Rymasheuski, “European Belarus” coordinator Alyaksandr Atroshchankau, a co-chairman of the organising committee for creation of the Belaruski Rukh (Belarusian Movement) party Viktar Ivashkevich, made a joint statement on boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The arrest of two activists of the civil campaign Tell the Truth! is not linked to their political pre-election activity. The measures taken by the state are more likely to be connected to the public projects of Tell the Truth!, such as a protest against the construction of the Chinese technological park in the Smolevichi district as well as the “Civil agreement” campaign (deals with solving social and everyday problems on citizens’ appeals)
All these projects go far beyond the traditional patterns of behavior within the opposition forces, in particular, on the format of participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections. As a result, civil society activists greatly expand their field of activity by addressing social issues (e.g., control over the privatisation, protection of property and civil rights of citizens, etc.). At the same time, by extending their activity beyond the election campaign, they prolong their political life.
Thus, on April 30, the leader of the civil campaign \"Tell the Truth!\" Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu said that the campaign has a long-term goal for 2015-2016. However, it should be mentioned that none of the conventional opposition movements declare such long-term perspectives.
More radical political actors “Belarusian Christian Democracy,\" \"European Belarus\" and \"Belaruski rukh\" (Belarusian Movement) stick to short-term tactics of boycotting the upcoming elections. Other well-known opposition parties such as “Just World\" and the United Civil Party act in a similar manner. Although they both have the opposite attitude to boycotting the elections, neither of them has declared any clear post-election strategy.
Thus, it could be said that the parliamentary election of 2012 will play a crucial role in splitting the Belarusian opposition into two major groups of strategic and tactical actors. The former ones are registered and unregistered parties and movements (the UCP party “A Just World”, \"Belarusian Christian Democracy,\" \"European Belarus\", \"Belaruski rukh\", etc.) The latter include new civic campaigns that do not limit their activity to participation in the elections and seek to implement long-term strategies of civic engagement (\"Tell the Truth!\", the \"For Freedom\" Movement).
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.