Prime Minister Myasnikovich lost two Deputies this year. Is he the next one?
Resignation of Sergei Rumas as Deputy Prime Minister further weakens the position of Prime Minister Myasnikovich and his team in the government. If such staffing policy continues, supporters of conservative economic development will hamper market reforms.
On July 31st the President agreed to the appointment of former Deputy Prime Minister Rumas as Chairman of the Board of JSC “Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus”.
Occupying the Deputy Prime Minister position, Mr. Rumas was one of the main negotiators with international credit organizations such as the IMF and the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund. Therefore, his transfer to head the newly created Development Bank, first of all, weakens the negotiating position of the Government and Prime Minister Myasnikovich.
Moreover, the replacement of the second vice-premier in the Government demonstrates that the President’s Administration replaces supporters of market reforms in the Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich’s team with more conservative officials from the President’s team. In February 2012 Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov from Myasnikovich’s team was appointed as CEO of Belarusian Potash Company and former Minister of Agriculture Mr. Rusy replaced him in the Government in April.
Consequently, further weakening of the Prime Minister Myasnikovich’s position will result in Belarusian economic planning being transferred to the Presidential Administration. In 2011 Myasnikovich’s Government managed to create a competition with Administration in the economic planning, but in November the Administration managed to insist on its conservative scenario for the economic development targets.
Current personnel policy of the Presidential Administration in the Government aims to consolidate these positions and will progress. Therefore, in the medium term, resignation of Prime Minister Myasnikovich could not be ruled out. The most likely candidate for Prime Minister’s post could be Deputy Prime Minister and a former Presidential Aide Alexander Kalinin.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.