It seems that in February Alexander Lukashenko started to act against the association “White Rus”: the steps to prevent merging of the business community and government officials were taken. Moreover, we can expect some increase in the influence of big business on the economic policy of the state.
At the same time, Belarusian authorities have continued efforts to improve relations with the West. Against this background, the next cooling in Belarusian-Russian relations became apparent. For example, on February 12, 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the updated concept of Russian foreign policy. The document as a whole declares the view of the place and the role of Russia in world politics according to its possibilities. Concept reads about the European choice in the development of the country, the same purposes and tasks of Russia and NATO. However, the most significant thing for Belarus is that it is mentioned only slightly there. The most important partner among post-soviet countries is Ukraine, which is actually a key country of the region.
Officials in Western capitals are really tired of Belarus. Perhaps this feeling has spread to Moscow. The situation could develop according to the worst-case scenario: both West and Russia will ignore Belarus, providing it an opportunity to deal with its own problems on its own without outside help.
In February, the opposition started the election campaign for the local councils. Consultations on the format of participation of regime opponents in the presidential elections in 2015 were unsuccessful. There may be a situation where the opposition organizations move from creating blocs and coalitions to fighting for the leadership of the organizations. The latter will have a positive effect, since it implies the work on organizational capacity building instead of endless negotiations and coordination of positions of political leaders.
It becomes more obvious that the positions of the Government and President Lukashenko on economic development of the country have differences. If the Council of Ministers supports more liberal market model, Alexander Lukashenko demands from authorities to ensure economic growth and competitiveness of the national economy with no significant changes in the structure of ownership.
And at the same time President Lukashenko has taken steps to reorganize MIA General Directorate of operative investigation activity, turning it into the Department. It is highly probable that one of the tasks of the new department would be a de-facto control of the loyalty of top bureaucracy and the Directorate of public enterprises. It is also about a certain dispersal of functions related to internal security of the regime.
The internal situation: the stability of state power.
The most important events of the month. Despite the big number of the events in the month, we believe that the main of them is a meeting of the Council for Enterprise Development, chaired by Alexander Lukashenko on February 26, 2013. During the event, Belarusian leader made several important statements:
— He warned business from uniting with bureaucracy and law enforcement agencies to lobby their own interests, and, in fact, threatened to use violence in case of attempts to create such a union;
— He spoke of serious consequences of funding Belarusian opposition, which is strange, as local businessmen are not inclined to fund whatever that may be voluntarily and without coercion, especially political activities;
— He emphasized that the Council was specifically formed without the participation of officials in order to be able to express an alternative position on the situation in the country, which differs from the opinion of the Government;
— He said that one of the responsibilities of the Council is to inform about the potential abuse by officials.
And especially Alexander Lukashenko addressed the issue of privatization of state property. This economic question has turned into a political one, as it has a direct effect on the ability of the authorities to control the situation in the country. Belarusian leader demanded an end to “talk about privatization”, saying that “it is harmful for us”. Privatization will be held, but only when the buyers are ready to pay market cost for state property. President won’t allow just to present the state property to officials or big business.
The development of the situation over the last month. In February Belarusian authorities continued to work to resume the dialogue with the West:
— On February 7, 2013 The Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makey discussed the Belarusian-European relations with the Ambassador of Latvia;
— On February 8, 2013 Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Guryanov met US Chargé d’Affaires in Belarus Mr. Goldrich and discussed with him issues of political cooperation and interaction in the international security;
— On February 8, 2013 the Ambassador of Belarus in the Netherlands met with a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of this country Mr. van Bommel, during which there was an exchange of views on the development of relations between Belarus and EU;
— On February 11, 2013 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Kupchina met with the head of the EU Delegation on Belarusian-European relations Maira Mora;
— On February 14, 2013 Mrs. Kupchina met with the Director of the Eastern Department of the MFA of Poland Mrs. Figel and Polish Ambassador Mr. Sherepko;
— On February 19, 2013 meeting of Belarus Mission to the Council of Europe with Secretary General of the organization Mr. Jagland, where the possibility of dialogue between Belarus and the Council of Europe was discussed;
— On February 20, 2013 the meeting of representatives of Foreign Ministry and the British Ambassador Mr. Bucknell, where the prospects of the “Eastern Partnership” was discussed;
— On February 21, 2013 Minister Vladimir Makey received German Ambassador Mr. Maas, and they discussed issues of bilateral cooperation and cooperation of Belarus with the EU;
— On February 21, 2013 B. Mackey met the Ambassador of Finland to discuss with him the development of relations between Belarus and the EU;
— On February 21, 2013 at the Foreign Ministry a meeting of Belarusian and German diplomats, in which issues of Belarus-EU dialogue were discussed, was held;
— On February 22, 2013 Minister Vladimir Makey met with Maira Mora, the parties exchanged views on the current issues and prospects of cooperation between Belarus and the EU;
— On February 25-27, 2013 Belarusian Ambassador to Finland Mr. Drazhin met with the Assistant of the President of Finland’s foreign policy Mr. Hautala, during which the parties also considered the development of relations between Belarus and the EU.
On February 12-13, Mr. Makey took part in the second round of informal ministerial dialogue of the “Eastern Partnership” member-states, held in Tbilisi. During the meeting in Tbilisi with Commissioner Mr. Fule and Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service Mr. Schmid, Mr. Makey called for the resolution of all outstanding issues through dialogue, and for the further involvement of Belarus in the European integration processes.
At the same time there is information about the initiative of the official Minsk to start the program “Partnership for Modernization” instead of the EU “European Dialogue on modernization with Belarus”. The main purpose of this change is to oust the opposition of a possible dialogue between Belarus and the EU.
However, this is only the visible part of the “iceberg”. The “non-public” work was also active. Belarusian authorities managed to get the support of German business, which was joined by the French and Italian businessmen. The main task is to break the deadlock against the official Minsk with the West. Interest of European business is clear: participation in privatization of Belarusian state assets. Mainly those who are also interesting to Russian investors. In addition, the official Minsk is actively supported by a number of deputies of the European Parliament mostly representing left-wing parties in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. In this case, the main argument is the “Russian threat”. Note that the factor of increasing the influence of Russia in Belarus led to a softening of the position of a number of representatives of Belarusian opposition, civil society and experts who promote the idea of “involvement” of Belarus in the European processes to neutralize the integration processes in the CIS with the participation of our country.
It’s also necessary to admit the fact that Belarusian representatives are actively working with various support staff (counsellors, aides, and the like) of the European functionaries, especially in the European Parliament, which may have an impact on the EU’s position towards Belarus.
The participation of pro-Israel lobby in Western capitals in the support of the official Minsk is questionable. Earlier, the opposition tried to use the accusation of anti-Semitism of Belarusian authorities to get the support of some influential Jewish organizations in the U.S. and EU. But Belarusian opposition was refused due to the fact that the regime of Alexander Lukashenko is an actual ally of Israel.
According to our information, in February two closed meetings (in Berlin and Brussels), dedicated to the restoration of relations of Belarusian regime with the EU, were held. The opposition were not invited to the meeting in Brussels.
On February 10, 2013 during a telephone conversation with Alexander Lukashenko Vladimir Putin invited him to visit Sochi to get acquainted with the preparation for the Olympics. And the next day, President Lukashenko left for Russia, and his press service announced it after the fact. Such haste gave reason to believe that the personal meeting of the leaders of the two states in order to address important issues was scheduled. However, it didn’t happen.
It is difficult to say how cancelled meeting is connected with the fact that having returned to Minsk on February 21, 2013 President Lukashenko met with the head of the KGB Vladimir Vakulchik. In the presence of journalists Belarusian leader was keenly interested in the latest trends “in relations with Western countries, especially the European Union and the United States of America”. At the same time Alexander Lukashenko said that he sees the “interest of the West in establishing constructive relations with us”. The latter is strange, because until recently that interest hasn’t been showed, and the President accused the EU and U.S. of reluctance to conduct a dialogue with Belarus in Minsk and of attempts to dictate their own terms.
It appears that the statements of President Lukashenko, anticipating the report of Mr. Vakulchik were addressed to Moscow on the eve of the upcoming meeting of the leaders of Russia and Belarus on February 15, 2013. It’s necessary to note that the bilateral relations, despite the protocol optimism, are far from being ideal. There’s no agreement on the amount and terms of oil supplies to Belarus this year. Taking into consideration the return to a deficit of foreign trade and the importance of oil exports to maintain social and economic stability in the country, this attitude of Moscow can be seen as hostile. Despite almost two decades of talk about the most intimate union of Russia and Belarus, a guest of the summit «G20», which will be held in Russia, will be Kazakhstan, but not Belarus. This has not been prevented even by harsh criticism of President Nazarbayev of Russian initiatives on the political integration of the CIS countries.
Against the background of the activity of Belarusian authorities in the “western direction”, the words of Putin on February 14, 2013 at an enlarged meeting of the Federal Security Service gained new meaning. He urged the agency staff to protect the integration processes in the CIS in close contact with partners from Belarus and Kazakhstan. The Russian leader said that Russia was already facing “attempts to slow down integration work”. Different tools of pressure, including the mechanisms of “soft power” were used for this purpose. Summarizing, President Putin urged security agencies personnel to protect integration projects in Russia and its partners reliably. Unfortunately, he didn’t say, how the partners need protection of integration projects initiated by Russia.
In February, the authorities announced plans to simplify the procedure for registering political parties and public associations. However, there are no reasons for the hope that this is real liberalization. In Belarus, not the norm of law, but the use of it by the officials is important. Therefore, a formal simplification of registration will not mean the actual ease the situation for the opposition and civil society.
Conclusions. Activities of Belarusian diplomats and lobbyists to restore the dialogue of the official Minsk and the West will fail as long as the country has political prisoners. Their release will mark the beginning of a process of rapprochement. According to our information, demand for political rehabilitation is actually removed from the agenda.
Speech by Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting of the Council for the development of entrepreneurship should be considered in connection with the activation of the top bureaucracy attempts to acquire independent political power with the use of association “White Rus”. If the question of business’ financing the opposition is traditional and theoretical in general, then warning businessmen from trying to lobby for their interests in government and law enforcement agencies directly points to the “White Rus”. It seems that President Lukashenko decided to destroy the emerging tandem of top bureaucracy and the business community, creating the Council for business development as an alternative center for business cooperation. The fact that in the Council the state will be represented by Mr. Prokopovich, one of the closest (and therefore influential) officials to president Lukashenko, a high level of autonomy of the structure will help to spurn the top bureaucracy from large and medium-sized businesses. Blocking the transformation of “White Rus” into a political party and changing election laws in its interests, President Lukashenko began the policy of weakening of some groups of officials (with possible subsequent destroying them). Especially as the issue of fighting corruption is relevant and it’s necessary to hold a cleansing in the state apparatus (especially among top bureaucracy). The limiting factor may be the lack of a decent employment pool of Belarusian leader.
It may turn out that in the near future the prospects of “White Rus” to become an alternative center of power in Belarus will be buried. It has the potential to repeat the fate of the Federation of Trade Unions, which from independent and the powerful organization was turned into a marginal level group.
The probability that the EU will accept the offer of Minsk to replace the “Dialogue on modernization” by “Partnership for Modernization” is small. The West understands that time is not on the side of Belarusian regime. And the moment, when the authorities are prepared to accept almost any conditions proposed by the West (except the resignation of President Lukashenko) can come quite quickly. In addition, the “Dialogue on modernization” is largely “empty” project. Basically, this initiative has no strategy and no goals. European officials have to show their work on “Belarusian issue”. In this case, the process is more important than the result. Therefore, there is no reason to change one no-working project to another.
Speculation of the official Minsk on some special or exclusive status of Belarusian-Russian relations was completely dispelled. Moscow clearly indicated its priority partners, and Belarus wasn’t in this list. Our country, like all other countries of the CIS participating in integration projects initiated by Russia, is used by Moscow just to negotiate a more high status in the hierarchy, which Putin has called “the historic West”.
The internal situation: the opposition and the protest movement.
The most important events of the month. Main issues in February, which were the focus of the opposition, remain the same:
— Changes in the electoral law;
— Upcoming 2014 elections in local councils;
— The fate of political prisoners;
— The prospects of creating a broad opposition coalition for the elections in 2015.
The most important event was the decision of “Tell the Truth!” on February 27, 2012 to suspend consultations to nominate a single opposition candidate in the presidential election in 2015. Explanation of this step is very vague and contains general phrases about readiness to join forces with other opponents of the regime and a call to work together for the future of the country. However, according to the announced program of the organization for 2013-2015 it can be stated, that “Tell the truth!” plans to become the leading opposition organization in the country. If “Tell the truth!” achieves this goal, the question of a single opposition candidate in the election in 2015 will be solved — it will be the candidate of “Tell the Truth!”. Simultaneously with the termination of consultations to nominate a single candidate, “Tell the truth!” officially announced the entry into the election campaign.
The plan of preparation of “Tell the truth!” to the election campaign of 2014-2015 includes:
— Development of the election program, which is ornately called “civil contract of change”;
— Concentration of the election program on the issues most important to society (economic development and struggling with the absolute power of officials);
— Creating a team of local level politicians and organizations, that will really work;
— The politicization of the population who are dissatisfied with the regime, but does not identify himself with the opposition;
— Increasing the number of “Tell the Truth!” activists.
The development of the situation over the last month. In response to the initiative of officials to change the electoral law, in February the opposition has prepared its own proposals and sent them to the authorities for consideration. Opposition’s proposals seek to avoid the possibility of manipulating the results of free expression of popular will. And that’s why they won’t be accepted — it is unlikely that the government will consider them at all.
Special attention should be paid only to the initiative of “Tell the truth!” to create committees of civil control over the privatization and modernization of state-owned enterprises. The purpose is to prevent abuse and corruption in the sale of state property, to maintain the control over the use of resources from privatization and to protect the interests of employees of the privatized enterprises. It is proposed to form a committee of civilian control in conjunction with government officials, civil society, the opposition and the employees. Previously, the issue of privatization was discussed by the political opposition. Thus, the UCP proposed to recognize all privatizations conducted by Belarusian authorities to be legally vulnerable. A similar position is shared by the Council of BPR. Currently, however, the privatization process is almost stopped by President Lukashenko.
In February, the election campaign of 2014 was started not only by “Tell the Truth!”, which expects to nominate 1,000 candidates for deputies of local councils. The oldest political party — BPF started preparations as well. Currently, none of the political forces is planning to conduct a boycott campaign. Although Belarusian opposition does not have any illusions: it is unlikely that the authorities won’t interrupt the work of opposition candidates. Working at the local level to address the problems of local communities is a priority for the opposition. This will help the political organizations to increase the level of support and human capacity. Naturally, this will cause a reaction from the regime. Election campaign in local councils is a prelude to the presidential election of 2015.
Conclusions. Thus, the leaders of the campaign “Tell the truth!” started their own game. In general, their decision seems rational: instead of endless and mostly fruitless debate within the opposition bloc, the organization has announced its intention to build its capacity. As we pointed out earlier, the coalition strategy in Belarusian politics does not have a positive history. The reason is that the ambitions of the majority of Belarusian opposition leaders exceed the capacity of the organizations they lead. And it is a constant source of conflict.
The ability of partners of “Tell the truth!” in the coalition consultations (BPF and Movement “For Freedom” (hereinafter MFF) to mobilize necessary resources for the election campaign in 2015 is doubtful. Even more doubtful is their adherence to “Tell the Truth!” as “junior partners”.
At first glance, building a coalition of UCP, BCD, BPF and MFF, the obvious candidate of which is Anatoly Lebedko, is the logical solution. However, taking into consideration the intense personal relationship between the BCD leader Vitaly Rymashevsky and the MFF leaders it may turn out that MFF will be in the political isolation during the electoral campaigns of 2014 and 2015, and eventually will lose value as a political actor.
In general, it should be noted that plan of “Tell the truth!” is realistic and appropriate for current situation. In this case, it will require active work of the organization for a long period of three years. The plan includes a major expansion of the organizational structures in the field. Thus, it will cost quite expensive to implement it. However, it appears that in the absence of adequate resources or real opportunity to get them, the leaders of the campaign would not have made such a drastic step.
The initiative of “Tell the truth!” to create a transparent mechanism for the privatization of state property would allow to level the political risks due to participation in it of political opposition and the public. However, it is naive to rely on any positive response from the Belarusian authorities. The top bureaucracy is preparing for non-transparent privatization in their favour. And the officials don’t need any public control in that. Alexander Lukashenko isn’t inclined to allow privatization of major objects of state property, as it will cause a loss of control over large groups of people (employees of enterprises and their family members).
The most important events of the month. As expected, February became the month of summarizing the previous year and formulation of more precise plans for 2013. The stumbling block is the declared program of modernization of industry, requiring significant, mostly public investment.
In the first half of the month one of the most interesting events was the report of the Minister of Economics Mr. Snopkov at the final meeting of the Government for 2012, which, what is more interesting, was published on the Ministry’s website. The greatest media attention to the Minister was brought by the assess of financial risks associated with the program of industrial modernization, planned for the current year. According to the data in the Minister’s report at the moment there are currently no sources of investment a total of USD 3,5 billion to hold the modernization. In the opinion of the Ministry, the most likely source for this need is the increase of the national debt from USD12 billion to 17 billion. At the same time a significant deterioration of trade balance will reduce the gold and foreign currency reserves and significantly increase the risk of devaluation of Belarusian ruble.
But at the same time, after studying the report thoroughly, it can be stated that its final chapter “Economic Security”, describing the above stated points, plays rather more daunting role and emphasize the need for the reform, offered by the Minister. In fact (besides just trying to push the responsibility for the implementation of plans for the year 2012 to the local authorities), the main thesis of the report is the need to reform the system of state management, which is currently not able to provide the necessary efficiency of public investment. Among the proposed measures is announced a market incentive system of business managers (directors get bonuses of 10% of the annual profits of the enterprise, and 0.1% of the foreign direct investment), privatization of large segments of public enterprises (for example, the Ministry of Economy prepared a list of 800 companies, “not appropriate for nature of the state enterprise”).
The development of the situation over the last month. In whole, the events of the month created an impression that the authorities have decided to launch a large-scale privatization and began preparing background information for this process. Thus, the head of the State Property Committee spoke about the formation of a list of 103 objects of state property, the sale of shares of which in 2013-2014 will attract USD 5 billion. In mid-February, some of the largest enterprises in Belarus were visited by Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Mr. Dvorkovich, which was estimated by most analysts as a pre-sale introduction to the interested property. Moreover, after the meeting, Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich stated intention to create 5 joint company with Russia on the basis of Belarusian enterprises in 2013.
But all of these events occurred in the absence of President Lukashenko, who again outlined his position on privatization after returning from vacation in Sochi, in the country. At first at a press conference after visiting one of Minsk enterprises, and then at a government session on the results of 2012 the position of the Minister Nikolai Snopkov and other officials was severely criticized by the President, and once again the inadmissibility of a listed large-scale privatization was stated. However, after a meeting the members of the Government (i.e. the Vice-Premier Piotr Prokopovich) still discussed the need for creating the “privatization list” for the amount of USD 1 billion, which President Lukashenko ordered the Government to develop before April 1, 2013.
The financial situation in February developed in the same trend: the government serviced government debt, while continuing to attract new resources in the domestic and foreign markets, foreign currency bonds. Thus, at the finishing stage of the process a new placement on the Eurobond market happened. At the first stage it is planned to place USD 500-600 million supposedly for 7 years at an interest rate no higher than 8%, and the total amount of placement can be around USD 1 billion. The statement of Russian Finance Minister Shatalov was also hopeful: the fifth tranche of EurAsEC AF loan can be granted in the near future, but in the end, the negotiations may increase the amount of funding within the framework of the loan.
The situation with the state of the reserves is satisfactory. Against the background of substantial payments on the foreign debt, their slight decrease was recorded in January. The development in February is expected to be more prosperous, because the payment for this month were less significant, and the situation on the currency market allowed the National Bank to buy an estimated approximately USD40 million in the equivalent.
As expected, the economic growth recorded in the first months of 2013 (3.1%) proved to be far from the planned values (8.5%). Moreover, even this result is largely due to some methodological calculation tricks and in February this figure would be much worse.
Conclusions. Even approval of the list of objects for privatization does not guarantee the success of the process, especially with the new draft law on the privatization of state property, drastically limiting the rights of the former state-owned enterprises by allowing representatives of the State to block any decision of the meeting of shareholders regardless of ownership interest (actually there is rebirth of the notorious “golden share”).
Overall, in monetary policy some mitigation can be admitted. The maintenance of this situation leads to a sharp drop in interest rates on ruble deposits and in maintaining high inflation and devaluation expectations result in increased pressure on the domestic currency market.
It should be noted that at the moment President Lukashenka created the plan of actions of the Government in the near future: strengthening economic growth and a large-scale modernization of industry, accompanied by tighter administrative control over economic processes. One can agree with the Minister Nikolai Snopkov, that the beginning of real action to implement this plan will significantly increase the risks of financial imbalances in the growth of the Belarusian economy.
National Security and Defence.
The most important events of the month. The most important events of February are linked to the further development of the Collective Security Treaty (hereinafter CSTO). Rapid increase in its governing bodies continues. Thus, the expansion of powers of the CSTO Joint Staff is planned: staff, structure and objectives will be changed. Increase in the strength of the Joint Staff will be provided through the formation of government combined forces, command and control of Air Force Special Operations Forces. In addition, an operational structure with intelligence and predictive functions will act as part of Joint Staff.
Strengthening the military component of CSTO is connected with the forthcoming withdrawal of NATO forces in Afghanistan, as well as threats to destabilize the political situation in some countries of the former Soviet Union.
However, these plans may face a lack of adequate funding: CSTO budget for 2013 increased just slightly, and in 2012 it even had deficit. The deficit amounted to RUB 5.6 million and was funded from temporary additional contribution of Russia. Other countries did not wish to provide funds for that. This indirectly suggests that, despite the strong statements, the actual level of integration within the CSTO is low, capacity of the alliance gives no reason to regard it as an important subject of international security.
The confirmation of the latter statement was the visit of CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha in Brussels in February. According to its results, a complete ignoring of the CSTO by NATO can be stated. According to a statement Nikolai Bordyuzha, since 2004 the CSTO repeatedly officially sent NATO proposals for various forms of cooperation and has received no response to any of them. The latest appeal to NATO took place in 2012 and was about the Afghan problem. It also remained without response. NATO prefers to interact directly with the CSTO member states.
During a visit to Brussels Mr. Bordyuzha was able to meet only with representatives of the CSTO member states to NATO and to consult with some of the ambassadors of NATO countries and representatives of individual structures of the Alliance. Lack of information about people from NATO functionaries, who met Bordyuzha, may indicate that it were not the most important persons. This attitude characterizes the real, not the declared level of authority of the CSTO. And it, in turn, follows from the capacity of the organization. Apparently, in Brussels they do not see the potential of the CSTO.
The development of the situation over the last month. One of the important events of the month was the appointment of Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus Colonel Tikhonov to the post of Chief of the General Intelligence Department. Previously, he served as deputy commander of Special Operations Forces, Chief of Operations Command of Special Operations Forces, commander of the 5th separate brigade of special purpose. Mr. Tikhonov is one of the most wise and respected military leaders of Belarus.
On February 10, 2013 United States imposed sanctions on two Belarusian companies: “CB “Radar” and “TM Services”. The claims of U.S. are only slightly linked to the specific activities of the two companies. The most probable version of Washington’s reaction is a documentary, demonstrated on February 6, 2013 by Iranian broadcaster IRIB dedicated to the last year’s interceptions of U.S. drones by Iranians. The most unpleasant for the U.S. was the loss of a top-secret “RQ-170”. The film was showing equipment, used to intercept the U.S. drones: Belarusian radar station “Vostok-E” produced by “CB “Radar” (video).
On February 25, 2013 Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree № 90 “On measures to improve the work of the internal affairs agencies of the Republic of Belarus”. The most important innovations are:
— Abolition of the Department of Internal Affairs on transport of Internal Affairs Ministry, functions, and personnel of which were transferred to the territorial MIA Departments;
— Creation on the basis of the MIA General operatively-search activity Department (the so-called MIA intelligence) of the Department to ensure the operational-search activity.
In addition, the Minister of Internal Affairs was provided some other secondary authority.
We should also focus on creating of the Department to ensure the operational-search activity. The functions of the new department aren’t known, the decree about creating the Department, defining its structure and size, will be confirmed before April 1, 2013. It is very likely that it will be one of a secret nature. We can assume that the responsibilities of the Department will include the fight against organized crime and extremism. It’s necessary to admit, that in September 2012, it was reported about the reorganization of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Interior, which must continue to focus only on the fight against corruption. The fight against organized crime had to be dealt with by territorial authorities and militia departments, and the fight against extremism in general was out the field of vision of MIA. Meanwhile, in 2011, Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption conducted a series of measures aimed at curbing extremist activity. Only during one of the operations about 6000 persons holding neo-Nazi views were under the attention.
Moreover, President Lukashenko has repeatedly expressed requirements to strengthen the fight against corruption and the use of public property contrary to the interests of the state. We can therefore expect that the number of tasks and activities to prevent abuse of the highest range and the directors of state enterprises to be included in the responsibility of the Department to ensure the operational-search activity. This is especially important in the light of the possible start of privatization.
In February, military-technical cooperation between Belarus and Azerbaijan continued to develop. As a result of the international defence exhibition IDEX-2013 in Abu Dhabi, a contract for the supply of anti-missile systems “Hornet-D” produced in Belarus was signed. Azerbaijan is one of the main partners of Belarus in the sphere of military exports. In addition, the political relations between Minsk and Baku are a some kind of strategic partnership.
Conclusions. CSTO remains uninfluential interstate structure in the post-Soviet territories. There are no reasons to believe that in the near future the situation will change. The role and importance of the CSTO will increase only if it can, in fact, to demonstrate its ability to react to threats in its member states not only during military exercises. The most likely situation in which there will be a need to use the mechanisms of the CSTO is the collapse of the current Afghan state. However, this is the least desirable thing: there is no guarantee of the willingness of the participating countries to act in coordination and responsible.
Today we can say about the incapacity of the CSTO in the Caucasus in the event of armed conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Mutually beneficial trade as well as economic and political relations of most member-states with Azerbaijan will clearly outweigh the alliance with Armenia. In this situation, it is naive to wait for Armenia’s participation in the resolution of a possible Central Asian crisis. Belarus at all is only materially-interested party and is among the kind of partners that “are well, while everything is good”.
Demonstrative ignoring of the CSTO by the West is also a signal for the post-Soviet states that direct bilateral relations with Western capitals will be more productive than the interorganizational relationship.
The sanctions imposed by the U.S. against the “CB “Radar” and “TM Services” could have the opposite effect and serve as a kind of advertising for products and services of these companies. Especially because both companies are in no way affiliated with the U.S. market and have no counterparts in the U.S.
Turning the Main Directorate of the operational-search activities into the Department of MIA enhances the status of the structure and is a testament to the importance of its tasks. Alexander Lukashenko seeks to reassert control over officials and the Directorate of public companies, the effectiveness of which in the last two years have been greatly weakened. Besides that, creating of the Department means greater autonomy in the actions and the possible weakening of the influence on the work of the Department of the MIA leaders, which may have their own interests, At the moment the Department to ensure the operational-search activity is the most secret service in the law enforcement agencies. Nothing is known even about the personality of its head.