Lukashenko’s PR Managers Introduce his Middle Son into the World of Business
On May 16, Dmitry Lukashenko, the middle son of President Lukashenko, and businessman Yuri Chizh were among the Belarusian BelAZ factory delegation to Russia.
The method chosen to introduce Dmitry Lukashenko into public life proves that this was an initial step to appointing him as curator of a major Belarusian business. Dmitry has been described by Russian journalists as \"a son of the President\". His connection with the BelAZ company and the purpose of the delegation remained a mystery. Nevertheless, the fact that Dmitry appeared in public in the company of a top Belarusian businessman indicates that President’s PR managers are attempting to ascribe him natural and indisputable business qualities. In an interview, Dmitry frankly said that he felt at home in the cab of a BelAZ truck. Lukashenko’s four-year-old illegitimate son Nikolai was introduced into public life in a similar way in 2000. He accompanied Lukashenko at public events and initially kept officially incognito. Then, on a TV programme, he wrote his name on the school board and thus introduced himself to the viewers. The official media avoided asking the President any questions about the birth of his child and simply took it for granted.
The professional interests of 32-year-old Dmitri Lukashenko are far from the production of BelAZ trucks or the mining industry. He heads the Presidential Sports Club and organizes sports events. However, it is clear that he is gradually going into business. The visit of the Belarusian delegation to the Kemerovo region in Russia was a response to the visit of the Kuzbass delegation to Minsk in 2011, in which Dmitry also took part. The President’s eldest son, 36-year-old Victor, is said to be an informal curator of the Belarusian security services. Out of the President’s sons, he remains the most veiled to the public attention.
There are no grounds for treating the actions of the President’s PR-managers as a strategy aimed at adding political weight to his sons. The two elder sons are likely to appear more on Belarusian TV. Also, there is no evidence to suggest that Lukashenko is preparing a successor. At present, Lukashenko does not feel the need to hand over power to anybody in the near future.
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.