The first 2020 presidential candidate, a split in trade unions, a visit from Chinese corporations – Belarus state press digest
The Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party nominates its deputy head, Alieh Hajdukievič, as candidate for the 2020 presidential elections and seeks to reform the parliamentary election system. The leader of the Congress of Independent Trade Unions sides with the authorities in the REP tax evasion case.
Aliaksandr Lukashenka reprimands senior officials for delays in collecting the harvest. A delegation of top Chinese corporations visits Minsk to inspect the Great Stone High Tech Park.
Lukashenka demands that the population of Belarus reach 15 million; he also demands that 300,000 citizens go to work. This and more in the new edition of the Belarus state press digest.
Domestic politics and security
Deputy head of the Liberal Democratic Party will run for president in 2020. Belarus Segodnia reported the results of the LDP party congress. The leader of the party, Siarhiej Hajdukievič, who has run for president four times, will now yield to his deputy and son, Alieh Hajdukievič. The Liberal Democratic Party has the largest membership of any political party in Belarus, with around 45,000 members. It is one of the few parties with representatives in parliament, other governmental agencies, and the business world.
In anticipation of the presidential elections, the party plans to participate in the 2018 local elections and hopes to put forward the largest possible number of candidates. The party will also lobby for a referendum on the introduction of a mixed-member proportional voting system, which will let more political groups into parliament and strengthen the country’s political culture and democracy.
Leader of the Congress of Independent Trade Unions sides with the authorities in the REP tax evasion case. Narodnaja Hazieta discussed the recent arrests of the leaders of the Independent Trade Union of the Radio Electronic Industry (REP) on tax evasion charges. While civil society claims that the authorities are repressing REP for political reasons, the investigation denies any political pretext, calling it a purely economic crime.
The article quotes the head of the Congress of Independent Trade Unions, Aliaksandr Jarašuk, who accuses the Danish trade union 3F of selective cooperation with Belarusian organisations and thus splitting the independent trade union movement. He claims that REP was involved in ‘dirty business’ and that he will not criticise the authorities for the criminal charges brought against REP.
How illegal migrants get to the European Union via Belarus. The number of migrants detained at the Belarusian border for illegal attempts to cross is on the rise, reports Respublika. The majority of migrants arrive in Russia and then travel to Belarus from there, taking advantage of the free customs agreement. They use GPS navigation systems to cross borders or pay smugglers who arrange their transportation to the EU. The profiles of such immigrants are varied, and include a significant numbers of student who ‘care not about knowledge, but a better life in the EU.’
Border control agencies have successfully identified the major routes for illegal migration and have the situation under control. Border control forces are also supported by voluntary, ‘patriotic’ border squads from the local population who identify and report suspicious travellers to border control agents.
Delayed harvest puts senior management in hot water. Despite the fact that agricultural enterprises have everything they need to operate, the latest reports reveal that 30% of them have violated technical regulations and will thus fall short of the normal harvest, reports Belarus Segodnia. Aliaksandr Lukashenka warned top executives not to attempt to use ‘bad climate’, data on infrastructural barriers, or other ‘systemic challenges’ as excuses.
He reprimanded senior executives for failing to fulfil their managerial responsibilities and mandated that the governors of three southern regions, Brest, Homiel, and Hrodna, reach the target harvesting goals – higher than in the previous years – ‘even at the cost of death’. Urging the senior executives to address poor management immediately, Lukashenka underlined the need to put to work ‘7-8% of non-functioning equipment nationally’ and ensure that the required financial and administrative support to achieve the harvesting goals is in place.
Top Chinese corporations consider the potential of the Great Stone High Tech Park. A delegation of the heads of the largest Chinese corporations, led by the Chairman of Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of China’s State Council, visited Minsk to discuss investment projects. The delegations focused on the opportunities afforded by the Belarusian-Chinese Great Stone High-Tech Park.
Aliaksandr Lukashenka suggested that the delegation set up high-tech military enterprises at the park. The parties also agreed to establish an investment fund in order to attract residents to the park, as well as provide market research and training for park employees. The Belarusian president underlined that Belarus and China are not ‘ganging up’ against anyone and are not violating the stability of the region.
Belarus develops a strategy to deal with nuclear waste. The construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is causing concerns regarding the future of nuclear waste management, writes Respublika. According to the National Nuclear Waste Management protocol, radioactive waste will be kept in special storage in Belarus, while used nuclear fuel, which is less radioactive, will be reprocessed and shipped to Russia, its country of origin, after 10 years.
Despite concerns regarding risks, the director of the Sosny Joint Institute for Power and Nuclear Research, Michail Žamžuraŭ, has stated that over the years Belarus has gained adequate experience in waste management and its practices are now up to international standards. Russian consulting companies are helping to develop their strategy, with the first disposal site expected to be designated by 2028.
Lukashenka demands that the population of Belarus increase to 15 million. After listening to a government report on the demographic situation in the country, the Belarusian president stated that Belarus has the capacity to maintain a population of 20 million, and reaching 15 million should be a future target. This will ensure the economic security and power of Belarus, reports Soyuznoye Veche.
Lukashenka has also ordered 300,000 citizens to get to work. ‘We have half a million people who do not work. 200,000 of them are families with many children, the disabled, or the ill, whom we can leave alone. But where are the remaining 300,000? We must force them to work’, Lukashenka said.