April 22 – April 28, 2024
The ruling elite

Lukashenka’s regime seems to last forever, until it ends

The situation has not changed

Lukashenka has been able to strengthen his position in the ruling class and consolidate his power. The politician succeeded in slowing down the transformation from a personalist regime to a collective government. The All-Belarusian People’s Assembly is becoming another dormant representative institution of the regime, with a milk-and-water presidium headed by Chairman Lukashenka, who combines this post with his presidential duties.

Lukashenka’s regime seems to last forever, until it ends

During the political crisis, Lukashenka won over the nomenklatura by promising to initiate a transfer of power. In 2022, the consent of the ruling class was sealed in a constitutional referendum. An informal agreement has been reached with civil servants to establish a new centre of power alongside a transformation of the government system, which was supposed result in the gradual departure of the first president. The All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, granted constitutional powers, was supposed to be this transitional institution.

However, the ruling class had no vision and even less so a roadmap for a power transfer. The establishment of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly required two years, with the actual gathering occurring at the height of the authoritarian reaction. During this period, the first president, with the support of the security forces, was able to neutralise the protest movement and carry out a significant purge of the public sector from dissidents. As a consequence, Lukashenka revised the informal agreement with the nomenklatura and reinstated the previous status quo. This has resulted in the concentration of all power in the hands of the dictator.

Thus, those elected to the Assembly Presidium were people who could not be described as nomenklatura heavyweights. With rare exceptions, the current Presidium members are generally no-names. They come from the second or even third tier of the nomenklatura and do not hold high government positions. Aliaksandr Kosinets, former head of the Presidential Executive Office (2014-2016), became deputy chairman of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly. Since 2017, however, he has lost much of his official weight, and before being appointed deputy head of the Assembly, he held the honorary position of Lukashenka’s assistant.

Nevertheless, the dictator used the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly to consolidate the vertical of power around his person. 

Lukashenka’s aim is thus to keep all power in his hands indefinitely. However, in the event of another political crisis, the risks of a transition to a harsher scenario and the collapse of the first president’s political structure increase.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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