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June 24 – June 30, 2024
The ruling elite

Turning Back to the 2000s – Regaining Public Favor

The situation has not changed
Turning Back to the 2000s – Regaining Public Favor
Photo: elements.envato.com

Lukashenka plans to run his electoral campaign drawing on the experience of the 2000s: economic growth, improved well-being, and high trust ratings. The Presidential Administration will be led by an official with connections in Moscow, and a political campaign manager from two decades ago will oversee the politician’s media image.

Lukashenka is making personnel changes within the Presidential Administration (PA) and the foreign policy department. Essentially, the PA serves as the dictator’s political headquarters during election campaigns. The appointment of the former ambassador to Moscow, Krutoy, as the head of the PA is expected to ensure stable contact and interaction between Minsk and the Kremlin. Lukashenka hopes to avoid tensions with Moscow, especially in the event of a political crisis. Notably, it is the PA, rather than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that performs foreign policy functions in communication with Russian authorities.

Lukashenka is strengthening the propaganda direction of the electoral campaign by revitalizing the media manager of his political initiatives from the 2000s. Natalya Petkevich has become the first deputy head of the PA, returning to power after falling out of favor in 2014 and a prolonged period of obscurity. Petkevich was responsible for the media direction during the 2004, 2006, and 2010 elections.

Lukashenka continues to view the diplomatic corps with suspicion — a loss of trust occurred in 2020. During those protests, several diplomats supported the people’s demands. Some of them later joined the democratic forces, such as Latushka, Astapenka, Kavaleuski, and Slyunkin.

Ahead of the 2025 presidential campaign, the politician is making personnel changes and trying to strengthen the loyalty of the foreign policy department staff. The former head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aleinik, has been sent on an honorary retirement to the Council of the Republic. The new head of the Ministry, Ryzhankou, has proven his loyalty while working in the PA. Pressure and purges among the diplomatic corps continue, but with Ryzhankou’s appointment, the administrative weight of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is increasing.

Thus, Lukashenka plans to demonstrate to the public and the state apparatus the return of popular support with numbers no lower than in previous elections. In case of a political crisis, the politician counts on close contacts and support from the Kremlin. Instructions for the security sector should be expected closer to the election.

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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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