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January 21 – January 27, 2019
The ruling elite

The president resumes the anti-corruption rhetoric amid economic liberalization talks

The situation has not changed
The president resumes the anti-corruption rhetoric amid economic liberalization talks

The country leadership has resumed attempts to mobilise the public sector through anti-corruption rhetoric and to enhance competition among nomenclature groups for dwindling public funds. The president has introduced some liberal notes in his rhetoric to demonstrate readiness for reforms. However, rapid and extensive economic reforms are unlikely, rather gradual and controlled transformations. Security forces further curbed protest activity and independent media operations.

The president has resumed the anti-corruption rhetoric to discipline public officials and to reduce the lobbying potential of some industries relying on state support. The president’s primary focus is on healthcare and education. When awarding PhDs and certificates to professors and teachers, he commented on the “case of doctors” and further spoke about the value of Belarus’ sovereignty and national security. Threats to Belarus’ independence are broadly discussed in society and, for example, private business is attempting to make use of it in promoting its interests.

The Belarusian leadership aspires to improve its international image by raising the profile of economic transformations. The liberal rhetoric at a meeting with foreign ambassadors was primarily addressed to foreign commentators and especially IMF experts. Foreign loans play an important role in retaining the economy’s resilience before and during the presidential and parliamentary elections, especially given the growing pressure from Belarus’ eastern ally.

Security forces have not relieved pressure on civil society, the opposition and independent media. The investigative committee launched criminal proceedings against anarchists on hooliganism charges for a graffiti and detained three suspects. Security forces further attempted to discipline Internet audience and encourage self-censorship in social media. Belsat journalist Olga Chaychits was detained after a press conference in Kurapaty.

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