A Year of Quality: Taking on Slackers, Crooks, and Corruptors with a Grenade Launcher
Aliaksandr Lukashenka has declared 2024 as the Year of Quality, pushing for a collective commitment to work with a heightened focus on quality, even for those who might be a bit resistant. The key theme of this campaign, as highlighted in the politician’s statements, is the battle against corruption in all its various forms.
Lukashenka pointed to a recent expose of criminal schemes in the dairy industry as an example. According to the KGB’s statement, the central figures in the “milkmen’s case” are the management of Babushkina Krynka.
During his visit to the Gomel region, Lukashenka also announced an extensive “debriefing of flights” in Belkooptsoyuz, stating, “I see the need to instill strict military discipline, similar to what has been implemented in Brest and Grodno.” This move comes in response to complaints from local residents about the limited assortment in rural stores run by the consumer operation. Lukashenka emphasized that authorities would also keep an eye on private trade in villages.
In a rather symbolic gesture, while visiting the artillery base in Gomel, Lukashenka was presented with a grenade launcher by the military. The State Secretary of the Security Council, Aliaksandr Valfovich, suggested accompanying him on visits to collective farms, noting, “Any collective farm director will work three times better.”
As the country approaches the February 2024 elections, there is a noticeable uptick in the national economy. According to government orders, it has grown by 3.8% in annual terms, reaching a GDP volume of BYN 179.2 billion. However, this growth follows a 4.7% decline in GDP from January to October 2022. Consequently, despite improvements, the economy has not yet returned to its 2021 levels. Experts are cautiously optimistic, pointing out that growth is mainly driven by net external demand, while domestic demand is on the decline.
Inflation is on the rise, especially in the past month, with the steepest increases observed in food prices, up by 1.2% compared to September. Some items are experiencing abnormal price hikes.
The workforce in the economy is shrinking, personnel shortages are on the rise, and businesses are less actively creating new jobs. The authorities are employing various methods to counter this trend. For instance, the “Minsk Tractor Plant” has promised to pay employees BYN 500 if they refer new employees to the enterprise. Lukashenka has once again called on “refugees” to return through the government-organized commission for the return of those who left.
As of the end of April, the commission has received over 60 appeals from those who fled Belarus to escape repression. On July 17, “Cyberpartisans” provided alternative data, stating that during the five months of the commission’s operation, only 16 people applied, with six of them being serious criminals.
Aleh Haydukievich, the head of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Belarus, became the first among system party activists (now consisting of four loyalist parties) to heed the lessons of Lukashenka’s political briefing on November 10. He asserted that only “patriots and systemic political forces” should compete in elections for parliament members and presidents. In essence, Haydukievich proposed officially revoking the right (Article 38 of the Constitution) of Belarusians to participate in elections and nominate their own candidates or suggested ignoring this right.
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Situation in Belarus