Regional conference of the democratic forces. Mogilev
In the end of March Mogilev hosted a regional conference of democratic forces. The conference was attended by representatives of the United Civil Party, Belarusian Popular Front, Belarusian Social Democratic Party NG, non-registered party of Freedom and Progress.
The conference was also attended by guests from the movement “For Freedom” Mr. Milinkevich and Mr. Gubarevich, as well as one of the authors of the “Strategy 2012” Mr. Mackiewicz. The main subject for discussion at the conference was preparation and participation in the 2012 election campaign.
The delegates decided to boycott the Parliamentary elections in 2012, if all political prisoners in Belarus were not released by the beginning of the election campaign.
This decision of representatives of the Mogilev Democratic Forces was adopted almost unanimously. The only reservation was that the 2012 elections “still needed to be prepared for”, given that the authorities could ease up on the political situation at any time. The idea of having a dialogue with the government and holding of legitimate elections in 2012, met little sympathy among the conference participants. This confirms our criticism regarding the prospects for consolidation of the democratic forces across the country. Meanwhile, this inflexible decision at the regional level could be attributed to particular rigidity of the local authorities. During the latest presidential campaign, Mogilev authorities have not included a single representative of the opposition in the territorial election commissions.
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.