Viktor Lukashenko gains influence in Belarus and abroad
On 18 July a government Resolution No 934 was adopted, empowering the Intelligence Analysis Centre under the auspices of the President of Belarus with the right to approve investment projects in the field of information technology,
financed via public funds and loans of Belarusian banks, with the overall cost exceeding USD 1 million.
Security forces in the circles of the oldest son of President Lukashenko, Viktor, have been consistently concentrating instruments of control over the financial flows within Belarus and abroad in their hands. This should have provided Viktor Lukashenko with enough influence to enter into public policy space, directly or indirectly.
The resolution de jure established the right of the IAC to examine projects in the IT field. However experts of the Center were also involved in the assessment of many other investment projects, such as “Belaruskaly”. Therefore, the decision of the Government should be regarded as a step towards formalizing of de facto informal control of financial flows within Belarus by the IAC and its curator Viktor Lukashenko.
Moreover, Viktor Lukashenko has consistently sought to take over control of the activities of Belarusian companies abroad via the State Control Committee. On 11-15 July in Yerevan, the Head of the Directorate for Coordination and International Cooperation of the Financial Monitoring Department of the SCC Prosvirov attended a meeting of the Egmont Group, which unites Financial Intelligence Units of 127 countries.
Mr. Prosvirov was appointed to this position in 2011 simultaneously with the Director of the IAC Vakulchik. During the meeting in Yerevan Belarus has signed an agreement on cooperation in combating money laundering and financing of terrorism with the Financial Intelligence Unit of Saudi Arabia.
Financial compromising has always been a valuable political asset, which has become a particularly important pillar in the political career of President Lukashenko. Accumulating levers of financial control in his hands would enable Viktor Lukashenko to increase his influence inside Belarus, as well as to acquire additional political weight in the single economic space in January 2012
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.