Government shakeup and international space congress – Belarus State Press Digest
Belarus hosts 21st International Space Congress. Alexander Lukashenka visits Uzbekistan. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei welcomes the new Russian Ambassador.
Lukashenka shakes the government amid the poor inspection of the Orsha region. New Prime Minister Siarhei Rumas names the key obstacles to Belarusian-Chinese economic cooperation. Lukashenka promises to modernize Uzbekistan’s Soviet military equipment.
Hrodna and Homiel celebrate their anniversaries. All of this and more in the latest edition of State Press Digest.
Politics and foreign relations
Lukashenka reshuffles the government amid the unsuccessful inspection of the Orsha region, reports the official Internet Portal of the President of Belarus. According to Lukashenka, the major faults of the fired officials included the “over relying on the market hand” as well as the “inclining to the fast privatization of state assets”. Nevertheless, Lukashenka’s new appointments also possess close ties to the “market hand”. In particular, the top-banker Siarhei Rumas became the new Prime Minister and the Deputy Minister of Economy Pavel Utiupin became the Minister of Industry.
Alexander Lukashenka visits Uzbekistan, reports Belarus Segodnya newspaper. On 13-14 September Alexander Lukashenka met Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan. Lukashenka and Mirziyoyev conducted talks on political and economic cooperation, including boosting Belarusian investment into Uzbekistan and creation of joint enterprises. According to Lukashenka, Belarusian-Uzbek relations reached a “new quality level”. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in his turn, ordered to create favourable business conditions for Belarusian enterprises.
Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei meets the Russian Ambassador Mikhail Babitch, reports Belarus Segodnya. On 11 September, Uladzimir Makei held a meeting with Mikhail Babitch, the newly appointed Russian Ambassador to Belarus. Makei and Babitch discussed the strengthening of strategic relations between Minsk and Moscow and the improvement of inter-state integration processes.
Alexander Lukashenka congratulates Petro Poroshenko with Ukraine’s Independence Day, reports the official Internet Portal of the President of Belarus. In his address to Poroshenko dated 24th August, Lukashenka expressed hope on further intensification of Belarusian-Ukrainian cooperation.
Lukashenka expects the growth of Belarusian-Iranian turnover up to 1 billion, reports Belarus Segodnya. On 7 September, Alexander Lukashenka conducted talks with Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Parliament of Iran, on Belarusian-Iranian economic cooperation. Lukashenka praised “excellent” political Belarussian-Iranian relations, yet regretted the low scale of economic cooperation. According to Lukashenka, instead of 300-400 million, Belarusian-Iranian turnover could “easily” reach 1 billion, should both sides follow “strictly” the agreed inter-state trade agenda.
Prime Minister Siarhei Rumas names the key obstacles to Belarusian-Chinese economic cooperation – reports Belarus Segodnya. On 7 September, the newly appointed Belarusian Prime Minister Siarhei Rumas met Chinese Ambassador Cui Qiming to discuss the actual state of economic cooperation.
According to Rumas, while the political relations between Belarus and China stayed “extremely good”, the inter-state trade relations suffered at times. Among the key obstacles to Belarusian-Chinese trade Rumas named financial barriers faced by Belarusian companies at the calculation stage and the recent quarantine restrictions for Belarusian agricultural products.
Belarus and Russia slowly limit transactions in US dollars, reports Soyuznoye Veche newspaper. According to the interviewed experts from the banking sector, the de-dollarization process has slowly begun in Belarus and Russia and cannot reverse. The experts maintain that further de-dollarization should strengthen Belarusian and Russian economies.
Lukashenka promises to modernize Uzbekistan’s Soviet military equipment, reports Belarus Segodnya. The parties reached the respectable agreement during Lukashenka’s visit to Uzbekistan on 13-14th September. Apart from that, Lukashenka assured Mirziyoyev of Belarus’s capability to establish military equipment modernization plants in Uzbekistan.
Minsk hosts the 21st International Space Congress, reports Soyuznoye Veche. On 9-15 September, Minsk hosted the 21st International Space Congress – one of the world’s major conferences on space exploration. In his address to the participants of the Congress, Alexander Lukashenka expressed satisfaction with the development of space industry in Belarus, reports Belarus Segodnya. According to Lukashenka,
We successfully produce high-resolution optical systems for satellites, cosmic mirrors with special smoothness, and equipment for remote sensing. […] We also plan cooperation with the international program “Sirius”.
Apart from that, Belarusian scientists intend to participate in Moon’s exploration programs and develop medicines for space use.
Russian MGIMO withdraws the scandalous monography with a violent prognosis for Belarus, reports Belarus Segodnya. MGIMO’s monography “The world in the 21st century: the forecast of international security development by countries and regions” issued in September contained a violent prognosis for Belarus.
According to the monography, Alexander Lukashenka had to “be removed beforehand” as “not pro-Russian enough” in order to avoid the repeat of the “Crimea scenario” in Belarus. Due to the upheaval of public discontent, MGIMO immediately apologized and stopped the monography’s circulation.
Brest hosts an international theatre festival, reports Brest Courier newspaper. On 11-16 September, Brest hosted international theatre festival “Belaya Vezha”. The spectators watched 28 theatrical performances from 10 countries. The festival’s Grand-Prix award went to Kyiv’s academic dolls theatre.
Hrodna celebrates its 890th anniversary, reports Vechernij Hrodna newspaper. On 15 September, Hrodna celebrated its 89oth anniversary with food courts, dances, music, and fireworks. Founded in 1128, Hrodna played an important role in the Belarusian history. So far, Hrodna remains one of the most influential cultural and economic centres of Belarus.
Homiel celebrates its 876th anniversary, reports Gomielskie Vedomosti newspaper. On 15 September Homiel celebrated its 876th anniversary with concerts, processions, and festivals. Founded in 1142, Homiel got seriously affected by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Nevertheless, Homiel actively develops as an important Belarusian regional centre.
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.
Next presidential elections, the diagnosis of the Belarusian economy- Digest of Belarusian Analytics
TUT.by predicts that six candidates from the opposition will run for the Belarusian presidential elections in 2020. Lukashenka’s alliance with China helps to avoid binary confrontation with Russia and the European Union. Russian media have increased blaming Belarus for infidelity amid the introduction of the 30-day visa-free period.
World Bank names three chronic diseases of the Belarusian economic model: the lack of sustainability, imbalance, and inefficiency. Belarusian business recognizes improvement of conditions in 2018 in almost all spheres.
British Professor of Economics, Anthony J. Evans creates Minsk travel guide. Belarus climbs to the 38th position in E-Government Development Index (EDGI).
This and more in the new digest of Belarusian analytics.
Who Will Go To Presidency in the Next Election? – Artiom Shraibman, TUT.by, draws up a list of candidates who will probably run for Belarus’ presidential election in 2020. The first candidate will be the incumbent president if to exclude force majeure. Roughly six more candidates from the opposition and other forces will be also nominated. The journalist notes that in recent years the leadership of the opposition has been almost completely upgraded because immovable leadership leads to stagnation.
How did Belarusians react to the Freedom Day? – Thinktanks.by received the results of the research conducted by the Belarusian analytical workshop (Warsaw) on how the Belarusians reacted to the celebration of Freedom Day (25th March). 21% of the respondents believed that March 25 had to be a state holiday, 32.8% disagreed with it, 44.3% did not have their own opinion on this matter.
Belarus: A Chinese Solution? – Tomasz Kamusella, New Eastern Europe magazine, Lukashenka’s skilful navigation in between Russia and the EU suddenly gains another dimension as the Belarusian strongman opens up his country to China. The previously binary choice will become fuzzier with this novel ‘triangulation,’ making it more difficult for one of the prospective three partners to put Belarus in place.
Belarus Opening up to the World Amidst Russian Accusations of Disloyalty – Grigory Ioffe stresses that one can hardly point to a more obvious sign of Belarus’s desire to open up to the world than the introduction of the 30-day visa-free period. This new step is occurring against the backdrop of Russia’s sour relationship with the West. Russian publications ever more frequently accuse Belarus of infidelity.
Belarusian Economy was Diagnosed. Will It be Cured? – Naviny.by overviews a comprehensive study of the World Bank that names three chronic diseases of the Belarusian economic model: lack of sustainability, imbalance, and inefficiency. Over the past quarter century, the economic model of Belarus has not changed significantly, characterized by a high state presence, and showed different results.
Mandatory sale of the currency is abolished in Belarus, according to the presidential decree signed on July 31. The decision was made ‘in order to liberalize foreign exchange relations and stimulate business activity’.
Belarusian business recognizes the improvement of conditions in 2018 in almost all spheres. This is a finding of the study Liberalization of Conditions for Business conducted among 409 small and medium-sized enterprises. The study was commissioned by IPM Research Center and conducted by MIA company. During 2010-2018, the main barriers to business remain high taxes and unstable legislation.
Reformists in the government strengthen the private sector confidence in the state when it comes to the national currency and economic policy, which manifested in GDP growth. Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities fear the consequences of comprehensive economic reforms, mainly due to the lack of clear signals from the Belarusian population that it is ready and accepts reforms.
Low official unemployment level – According to the International Labor Organization, Belarus is on the 4th place in terms of unemployment, which corresponds to one of the lowest levels in the world. However, the rating takes into account the official unemployment in Belarus – 0.5%.
The situation in the Field of National Security and Defense of Belarus. June 2018 – In its monthly monitoring, Belarus Security Blog notes that the special services finally made public the cases of violations in the health sector. The experts believe that the reason is upcoming presidential elections. Belarusians observe a PR campaign to raise the ratings of the government and personally Lukashenka as a fighter against corruption.
Civic Control Over the Army. Basic Provisions – Belarus Security Blog outlines a model, which proves the need to strengthen civic control over the military forces. This is particularly urgent for nations that recently freed from totalitarianism and need a radical revision of the relationship between civil society and the military towards their democratization. The related situation in Belarus is considered.
Trump and Putin’s Meeting in Helsinki: Issues for World and Eastern Europe, Recommendations for Belarus – In his analytical note, Yauheni Preiherman notes that the Russian-American summit in Helsinki is a missed opportunity for security in Eastern Europe. With any developments, Minsk should continue its own search for possible points of contact and formats for coordinating the interests of global and regional players.
Belarus’s Second Front: Is Lukashenka Really Afraid of Russia? – Artyom Shraibman, for Carnegie Moscow Center, notes that in the past few years, Minsk has started citing Russia as its main threat. It is an open question whether the Belarusian authorities really believe the Kremlin poses a threat to the country’s sovereignty, or whether they are simply attempting to dress up their usual repressive behaviour in pretty packaging for the West.
Travel Guide to Minsk – British Professor of Economics, Anthony J. Evans describes his impressions upon his visit to Minsk. Military uniform is everywhere, tractors roam the streets. And the absence of a democratic transition casts an intriguing shadow of communist rule. But the city is vibrant, affluent, and spotlessly clean. It feels more like a Baltic city break than an Eastern European industrial wasteland.
Belarus takes the 80th place in investment attractiveness. According to the International Business Compass 2018, Belarus for the year has improved its position by 7 points and bypassed Russia and Ukraine, which take 95th and 131st places respectively.
Belarus climbs to the 38th position in E-Government Development Index (EDGI). The country has moved 11 positions up to make it to the top 40 countries in the Very-High-EGDI level group for the first time. The UN E-Government Survey is compiled for 193 countries every two years.
Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.