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Church split, army bullying and scandalous opera – State Press Digest

Alexander Lukashenka meets Patriarch Kirill of Moscow amid the Orthodox schism between Moscow and Constantinople. Former Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko visits Minsk. Prime-minister Rumas outlines the key priorities for the new government and calls for an urgent meeting amid...
Prime Minister of Belarus

Alexander Lukashenka meets Patriarch Kirill of Moscow amid the Orthodox schism between Moscow and Constantinople. Former Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko visits Minsk.

Prime-minister Rumas outlines the key priorities for the new government and calls for an urgent meeting amid the average salary’s decrease.

Vladimir Putin wants to increase Belarus-Russia trade. Russian Ambassador Babich promises the end of “milk wars” in future. Belarus requires new re-industrialization worth billions of dollars.

Lukashenka condemns military bullying, yet suggests students should undergo military training on summer holidays. Scandalous Strauss’s opera “Salome” features in Minsk’s Opera Theatre despite the religious protests.

Politics

Lukashenka meets Patriarch Kirill of Moscow amid the Russian Church’s split from Constantinople, reports Soyuznoye Veche newspaper. On 15 October, Alexander Lukashenka welcomed Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and stressed the importance of the church unity. According to the President of Belarus, the recent Orthodox church’s split would negatively impact all the levels of the society in the Post-Soviet space. “It had a lot to do with politicians”, maintained Lukashenka. Patriarch Kirill, in his turn, praised the Belarusian neutral position and admired “big positive changes” in Belarus over the years.

Prime-Minister Siarhei Rumas outlines the top priorities for the new government’s work, reports BELTA agency. According to Rumas, the increase of the nation’s well-being and the improvement of competitiveness of the state’s sector should remain the key government’s priorities for the next five years.

Viktor Yushchenko visits Minsk, reports Belarus Segodnya newspaper. On 9 October, Alexander Lukashenka welcomed Viktor Yushchenko in Minsk to discuss Belarus-Ukraine relations. Lukashenka maintained that Belarus would always abstain from criticizing Ukraine’s political standing and interfering into Ukraine’s domestic affairs. On the other hand, the President of Belarus disapproved Ukraine’s intention to leave the CIS block and warned about the increase of arms smuggling via the Belarusian-Ukrainian border.

Economy

Lukashenka intends to strengthen the state’s alcohol monopoly in order to combat the unfair competition on the alcohol market, reports Belarus Segodnya newspaper. On 22 October, Alexander Lukashenka held a special meeting to discuss the development of the national alcohol production. Previously Lukashenka strongly criticized the experimental ban on alcohol sales after midnight exercised by the Minsk authorities. At present, the Belarusian state fully controls the production and distribution of alcohol production.

Prime Minister Siarhei Rumas calls for an urgent meeting amid the average salary’s decrease, reports Hrodna News. On 23 October, Rumas held a working meeting to discuss the average salary’s decrease recorded in September – for the first time since April 2018. According to Rumas, this situation happened due to the fluctuations of the Russian rouble and the ignorance of public administration.

Belarus requires a new industrialization, reports “Finance, accounting and audit” magazine issued by the Ministry of Finance. In order to increase the Belarusian GDP from $54 bn in 2017 to $100 bn as planned by Alexander Lukashenka by 2025, Belarus has to re-industrialize its regions. The Belarusian re-industrialization should include the development of energy-saving and electric transport, “smart house” construction, petrochemical and microbiological projects, and production of new construction materials. Such large-scale projects will require at least $4 bn investments.

Mikhail Babich

Alexander Lukashenka meets Russian Ambassador Mikhail Babich. Source: The Press-Service of the President of Belarus

Russian Ambassador Mikhail Babich wants to reload Belarus-Russia economic relations, reports Soyuznoye Veche newspaper. Mikhail Babich views his major task in supervising the duly implementation of the agreements between Alexander Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin on petroleum products.

Babich maintained that the“milk wars” between Russia and Belarus sufficiently damaged the relations between the two states. At the same time, the “milk wars” might disappear in future due to the introduction of tight food balances.

Vladimir Putin believes that trade volumes between Belarus and Russia could increase up to $50 bn, reports Belarus Segodnya newspaper. While visiting Mogilev on 12 October, Putin praised the large-scale economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia. Putin maintained that the trade volumes between the two states could increase from the actual $32 bn to $50 bn in the nearest years.

Security

Lukashenka condemns bullying in the military, reports Belarus Segodnya newspaper. On 5 October, Alexander Lukashenka criticized the Belarusian military for the bullying cases. According to the President of Belarus, bullying in the military strongly harms the image of the Belarusian troops and provokes young men to avoid the military service at all costs. Lukashenka urged the Ministry of Defense to eradicate bullying as soon as possible.

Lukashenka’s criticism relates to the tragic death of private Alexander Korzhych and the ongoing trial of his military superiors. The final verdicts on Korzhych’s offenders should come at the beginning of November.

Education

Lukashenka discourages Belarusian students from studying abroad, reports Belarus Segodnya newspaper. On 20 October, Alexander Lukashenka visited Hrodna region and met the students of Hrodna’s Yanka Kupala State University. The President emphasized that Belarusians moving to study and live abroad would most probably remain “second-class citizens” there. The Hrodna region stands among the leaders in terms of students’ migration: many students from Hrodna easily move to neighbouring Poland for work and study.

Apart from that, Lukashenka criticized the introduction of the Bachelor/Master diploma frame to the Belarusian universities. According to the President of Belarus, the Belarusian higher education system should aspire to become more practical-oriented rather than blindly adopt the Western standards.

Belarus opera

The scandalous Strauss’s opera “Salome” features in Minsk’s Opera Theater. Source: https://www.sb.by/articles/vtoraya-popytka-salomei.html

Lukashenka suggests drafting Belarusian students to the military on summer holidays, reports Hrodna News. During his visit to the Hrodna region, Alexander Lukashenka stressed that too many students misused their military service postponing in order to avoid the military service at all.

The President suggested that first-course university students could undergo basic military training during the summer holidays. The second-course students could obtain a military specialization the following summer and continue advancing their military skills during the subsequent summers.

Culture

The Minsk’s Opera Theatre launches the premiere of the scandalous Strauss’s opera “Salome” despite the religious protests, reports Belarus Segodnya newspaper. Opera “Salome” describes the relations between John the Baptist and the members of Herod’s family, very roughly based on the Bible. The Belarusian protesters objected the launch of the opera’s premiere on 9-10 September, close to the commemoration of John the Baptist’s beheading on 11 September. Apart from that, the protesters described the opera as “promoting lewdness”.

The Administration of the President of Belarus carried out the opera’s inspection together with the Prosecutor General’s Office and approved the opera. Metropolitan Pavel, the leader of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, also approved the opera’s staging. Eventually, the opera featured on 18 October.

The State Press Digest is based on the review of state-controlled publications in Belarus. Freedom of the press in Belarus remains restricted and state media convey primarily the point of view of the Belarusian authorities. This review attempts to give the English-speaking audience a better understanding of how Belarusian state media shape public opinion in the country.

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Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk holds degrees from Coventry University and the European Humanities University. She is based in Minsk, Belarus.
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