Officials unable to organize active resistance to state apparatus reform
On July 2nd, the National Intellectual Property Center staff published an open letter on the Centre’s website, expressing regret about striping them off civil servants status.
The state apparatus reform is painful, but it is totally under control of its initiators in the ruling group. Rare resistance cases to the reform reflect the overall inability of officials to actively oppose it.
In an open letter the Center’s staff deplored the deprivation of their civil servant status and called the decision ‘insane’, since the Center deals with national importance issues (development and adoption of standards in the national intellectual property system). The letter also stated that on June 28th management and some Center staff resigned, refusing to continue working in the new environment.
On the same day information came through that the government is preparing a special resolution to increase the salaries the Centre’s staff and that the government will not revise its decision regarding Centre’s staff status. The open letter soon was taken off the Centre’s website.
This case is demonstrative of how Belarusian officials react to the ongoing state apparatus reform. Firstly, officials’ protests are passive: people prefer resigning quietly to contesting reforms’ principles. Secondly, the most active protest form is public appeals, which is a clear sign that the situation is hopeless and that the issue had failed to be resolved behind the scenes.
Thus, the ruling group is firmly in control of the reform progress and may not worry about the organized resistance and sabotage by the dismissed officials. Simultaneously, the government has an effective compensation tool – pay rises to those whose interests were harmed and who protested mildly.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.