Viktor Lukashenko gains influence in Belarus and abroad
On 18 July a government Resolution No 934 was adopted, empowering the Intelligence Analysis Centre under the auspices of the President of Belarus with the right to approve investment projects in the field of information technology,
financed via public funds and loans of Belarusian banks, with the overall cost exceeding USD 1 million.
Security forces in the circles of the oldest son of President Lukashenko, Viktor, have been consistently concentrating instruments of control over the financial flows within Belarus and abroad in their hands. This should have provided Viktor Lukashenko with enough influence to enter into public policy space, directly or indirectly.
The resolution de jure established the right of the IAC to examine projects in the IT field. However experts of the Center were also involved in the assessment of many other investment projects, such as “Belaruskaly”. Therefore, the decision of the Government should be regarded as a step towards formalizing of de facto informal control of financial flows within Belarus by the IAC and its curator Viktor Lukashenko.
Moreover, Viktor Lukashenko has consistently sought to take over control of the activities of Belarusian companies abroad via the State Control Committee. On 11-15 July in Yerevan, the Head of the Directorate for Coordination and International Cooperation of the Financial Monitoring Department of the SCC Prosvirov attended a meeting of the Egmont Group, which unites Financial Intelligence Units of 127 countries.
Mr. Prosvirov was appointed to this position in 2011 simultaneously with the Director of the IAC Vakulchik. During the meeting in Yerevan Belarus has signed an agreement on cooperation in combating money laundering and financing of terrorism with the Financial Intelligence Unit of Saudi Arabia.
Financial compromising has always been a valuable political asset, which has become a particularly important pillar in the political career of President Lukashenko. Accumulating levers of financial control in his hands would enable Viktor Lukashenko to increase his influence inside Belarus, as well as to acquire additional political weight in the single economic space in January 2012
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.