Personnel shifts in the President’s circle: how much longer PM Myasnikovich will stand?
Mr. Tkachev is most likely to be promoted. Temporary uncertainty about his future career increases the probability of further developments in the staffing policy, which weakens the Prime Minister Myasnikovich’s team or results in his resignation.
On August 17, President Lukashenko dismissed his Assistant for Economic Affairs Mr. Tkachev, who was transferred to another job and replaced him with Mr. Prokopovich.
The President did not disclose the reasons for Mr. Tkachev’s transfer which implies he is likely to be promoted. Presidential Aide for Economic Affairs position is of great importance and Mr. Tkachev occupied his post since 2001 and was reporting directly to the President.
Therefore after leaving this position, one would occupy a position which is not less significant. Given Tkachev’s professional background and economic qualifications, for 3 years he was a Deputy Economy Minister, he is likely to be transferred to the Government. If so, the most appropriate administrative post would be the Prime Minister’s chair.
The probability for such personnel decisions is high, given the marked weakening of the Prime Minister Myasnikovich’s position: his deputies were consistently transferred to other posts. Moreover, the ideological and personal conflict between Tkachev and Myasnikovich would not allow them to work together effectively, if, for example, Tkachev was appointed Deputy Prime Minister or Economy Minister.
Tkachev was responsible for the development of projected economic development targets, approved in November 2011, and imposed on Myasnikovich and his Government team. Another position corresponding to Tkachev’s current status in the Administration could be a leading position in the State Control Committee.
Appointment of the former National Bank Head Mr. Prokopovich as Presidential Aide should be regarded, first of all, as Lukashenko’s desire to have a competent and trusted advisor on economics and finance close to him. In 1996-1998 Prokopovich was Deputy Head of Presidential Administration for economic issues.
Contrary to popular believes that Prokopovich is a liberal economist, it should be noted that his main motivation is to lobby the construction industry interests, were he made his main career. This motivation has very special economic effects: for example, his desire to reduce the refinancing rate, to an outsider may appear as market liberalism.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.