Lukashenko’s family strengthen control over the Belarusian ruling elite

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April 22, 2016 18:10

On May 11, President Lukashenko appointed Colonel Igor Shunevich to the post of Minister of Internal Affairs previously occupied by Anatoli Kuleshov.

It was expected that Igor Shunevich could be reassigned from his position of Deputy Minister to the post of Minister since the former Minister of the Internal affairs Anatoli Kuleshov had virtually excluded himself from managing the Ministry.

Kuleshov has been rumoured to be ill, but this was obviously not a cause for his dismissal. In reality, the former minister had failed to show himself as an independent manager. He dutifully performed orders of the head of the state, including brutal crackdown on street protests in 2010 and 2011. In addition, Kuleshov failed to present the requested draft reform of the Ministry of Interior.

The appointment of Colonel Sinyavsky the Minister should be regarded as a signal that Lukashenko’s immediate environment find it necessary to eliminate from the Interior Ministry those managers who had been employed under Naumov’s governance and who are not loyal enough to Lukashenko’s family. That explains why the former officer of the Presidential Security Service Sinyavsky had headed the Security Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Shunevich proved his loyalty to the President by making a career in a Chief Directorate of Counter-intelligence Support to law enforcement and regulatory authorities on fight against corruption and organised crime.

It has already been mentioned that the fact when a former official of State Security Committee of Belarus controls the Ministry of Internal Affairs should be viewed as a growth of influence of the so-called Viktor Lukashenko’s group over the Belarusian law enforcement agencies. (Shunevich began his career in the Interior Ministry, and in 2007-2012 worked in the KGB). It can be stated that the eldest son and assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Viktor Lukashenko has a significant impact on the management of the following security services:

  • The Operative-Analytical Centre (surveillance in IT sphere; investment consultancy service at least in the telecommunication sphere)

  • The State Security Committee of Belarus (counter-intelligence, anti-terrorism and the protection of public order)

  • Financial Investigations Department of the State Control Committee(financial intelligence)

  • The Investigation Committee (together with the KGB, it has the exclusive right to conduct a preliminary investigation under the Criminal Code)

If to speak about Viktor Lukashenko’s influence, it should be reminded that he has an informal friendly relationship with the management of these structures. Most of the chiefs of the law enforcement agencies were granted their posts due to Viktor’s patronage. Firstly, we should name the head of the KGB Vladimir Zaitsev and the head of the Investigation Committee Vladimir Vakulchik. However, currently there is no real evidence of Viktor Lukashenko’s plans to succeed his father as president.

The current rotation of personnel could be regarded simply as strengthening of the position of Lukashenko’s family. Viktor Lukashenko’s group do not enjoy support and trust within the Belarusian ruling circles and has not yet demonstrated its ability to make agreements.

Therefore, the most likely political outcome of personnel rotation would be applying a repression mechanism to the resolution of management, property and political conflicts within the Belarusian elites.

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President ensures continuity of state administration with young middle-level personnel
October 02, 2017 12:08
Image: BRSM.BY

President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.

President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.

The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.

The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.

The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.

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