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March 25 – March 31, 2024
The ruling elite

The Lukashenka Pyramid: A Dilemma of Two Peaks

The situation has not changed
The Lukashenka Pyramid: A Dilemma of Two Peaks
Малюнак: Міраслаў Мірчаў

The ruling class is completing a massive overhaul of the representative organs of the regime. At the top of the pyramid, a new institution must emerge – the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly (UNA) – consisting of filtered and most devoted supporters of Lukashenka. However, four years after the 2020 crisis, the politician has reinstated the status quo. And this hardly pushes him to rethink his personal powers in favor of a collective body.

In the executive and representative vertical, extensive personnel reshuffles are taking place. After the 2020 crisis, the top leadership of Belarus intensified demands for loyalty to contenders for leadership positions. As a result, extensive candidate screenings in various regime bodies may delay personnel decisions.

The Central Election Commission has registered 56 candidates for membership in the Council of the Republic. They are planned to be co-opted into the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

The ruling class is conducting a massive campaign to recruit members of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly. These are 1200 individuals who must pass through a sieve of loyalty checks to the regime. In addition, a presidium of the UNA is being formed with 15 officials at the helm.

Lukashenka will try to review and reduce the role of the UNA in the power system. After restoring the status quo based on the results of four years of authoritarian reaction, the politician aims to maintain the personal nature of the regime.

At a meeting with the prime minister, Lukashenka emphasized the Ordinariness of the 7th convocation of the UNA. This is despite the fact that the body acquired constitutional status and significant powers as a result of an informal agreement with the nomenklatura. The agreements were cemented by the referendum in February-2022.

The UNA poses a unique challenge to Lukashenka’s personal rule. The autocrat intends to integrate this “supreme representative body” into the personality-based power system, but so far lacks a comprehensive vision of how to do so.

It cannot be ruled out that the politician is counting on staggering levels of support in the 2025 presidential elections, inspired by the elections in Russia. In that case, the project to transfer powers to the UNA as a collective body may be frozen indefinitely.

Thus, Lukashenka strives to devalue the role of the UNA to preserve his personal monopoly on power.

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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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