Rapidly changing workforce and regulations; stable functioning machine of violence
Lukashenka reshuffled personnel in several ministries and state agencies and made a symbolic gesture towards import substitution by installing a locally produced computer in his office. The influence of the security forces on state administration continues to grow, and businesses are forced to adapt to a rapidly changing (often not for the better) regulatory environment.
An invisible struggle continues behind the scenes between different loyalist factions. On January 17th, Lukashenka announced some personnel changes, accompanied by a lengthy commentary about devotion to the country, professionalism and readiness to work. The reorganisation affected the Ministry of Education (rectors of universities), the local administration, and the leadership of several ministries. In particular, in another instance of security officials being appointed to civilian positions, Aleh Voinau, former military policy assistant to the Minister of Defence, became director of the Department of Archives and Records Management of the Ministry of Justice.
The influence of regime power structures on all spheres of life is expanding and intensifying. The 2023 final school exams will be supervised by a state commission, including representatives of the State Control Committee (KGC), the body responsible for the “economic security” of the Republic of Belarus.
On January 20th, Lukashenka visited the “Intellectual Belarus” exhibition in Minsk, celebrating scientific and technological achievements. Following this, he issued instructions to replace the Apple laptop in his office with a Belarusian Horizont model, thus making a personal symbolic contribution to import substitution. He also instructed that 70% of the parts used in Belarusian laptops must be domestically produced by the end of 2023.
The ratchet of repression continues. Another in absentia verdict was returned, this time against the Black Book of Belarus telegram channel, which published the personal data of Belarusian security forces members. Among the five defendants was Dzmitry Navosha, a well-known journalist and former co-owner and head of sports.ru. All five received 12-year sentences for inciting hatred and illegally collecting and disseminating personal data. None are currently present in Belarus.
On January 19th, activist Darya Losik was sentenced to two years imprisonment in relation to an interview about her husband, Ihar, who is serving a 15-year sentence. Daria and Ihar’s daughter was placed in the care of relatives. On January 20th, Minsk City Court sentenced a mother and daughter, former employees of MTBank, to seven and six and a half years imprisonment, respectively, for providing data to “extremist” telegram channels.
For business entities, the year began with the study of new regulations, with over 100 pages of amendments to the tax code alone. In addition, amendments to October 16, 2009, Decree No. 510, “On improving supervisory controls in the Republic of Belarus”, expand the scope for unscheduled inspections.
The Ministry of Defence announced reduced medical standards for military service, applicable to volunteers, conscripts, and reservists.
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Situation in Belarus