Belarusian political circles’ reaction to the ‘potash case’
Some political organizations and politicians have made statements about the criminal case against the Uralkali and BPC leaders.
Some opposition groups and politicians have used the Russo-Belarusian ‘potash conflict’ as an excuse to address their target audiences. All statements were made ad hoc and did not exploit the potential of political coalitions. Pro-government political and social organizations were silent, implying that the ruling group was not ready to ‘politicize’ the conflict.
On August 27th, Vice-President of Belarus’ Liberal Democratic Party Oleg Gaydukevich said that Belarus’ actions were not political by nature and that the Investigation Committee of Belarus was responding adequately to the situation. This statement was addressed to representatives of Belarus’ security services, to which Oleg Gaydukevich belonged until autumn 2012 (he headed the Frunze District Police Department in Minsk). We also note that the President of the Liberal Democrat Party, Colonel Sergei Gaydukevich, and father of Oleg Gaydukevich, comes from a military background. The party’s support of the authorities’ actions regarding the ‘potash case’ was therefore fairly predictable.
On August 30th, “For Freedom” Movement issued a statement addressing its primary target audience, the so-called “discontented majority”. In the statement, “For Freedom” argues that the potash conflict and the arrest of a Russian citizen is a natural outcome of Russia’s long-term support of illegal political governance and economic management practices in Belarus, and its non-transparent approach to business management. The Movement called upon pro-active citizens to take part in the “National Referendum” project which aims to democratize governance in Belarus.
United Civil Party Chairman Anatoly Lebedko said that the conflict was an ‘image’ matter for the Kremlin and would continue to escalate until parties finally reconciled.
Pro-government parties and public associations refrained from commenting. Except some negative statements by MPs, the conflict was overlooked by Belarusian pro-governmental politicians and organizations. This implies that the ruling group is not ready to regard the ‘potash case’ as a full-scale ‘conflict’. However the authorities are using state propaganda mechanisms (public electronic media and loyal experts) to win sympathy in Belarusian and Russian societies.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.