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“INFOFOCUS” N 8, 2015

E-bulletin of IISEPS Center for Documentation, N 8, 2015 – ISSN 1822-5578 (only Russian)

Content:

Introduction
1. Basic trends of August
2. Chronicle of key events
3. Politics
3.1. From populism to indifference
3.2. Elections? What elections? The war is on the way!
4. Economics
4.1. Chinese “tiger” at the cusp of structural reorganization
4.2. Just an oil and gas company
4.3. A trend, though!
5. Finances
5.1. Ruble potential is not exhausted yet
6. Our forecast for September
7. From the IISEPS desktop

Introduction:

Dear readers!

Despite our expectations and the forecast of L. Yermoshina, the Chairwoman of the Central Election Commission, it’s likely that instead of five candidates only four will actually be registered. Out of 130,000 signatures, collected by the initiative group of V. Tereshchenko, only 6699 survived scrutiny. The rest were rejected by territorial commissions. The procedure of candidates’ registration is appointed to September 10.
Let us suggest that economist V. Tereshchenko is a victim of the CEC’s aspiration to impress observation mission from OSCE/ODIHR. From the one hand, T. Korotkevich, a real representative of opposition, had no problems on the stage of registering the signatures. On the other hand, obvious sparring partners of the head of state, the chairman of LDPB S. Gaydukevich and the Cossack ataman N. Ulakhovich, had no problems as well. And this is despite the lack of any public activity of initiative groups of these two candidates. In this situation rejection of signatures for the independent candidate means displaying the adherence to principles of the CEC. Can it be possible that European observers won’t like these principles? Here we are, following the letter of law!
Precinct commissions were formed without any surprises. Only 30 representatives of oppositional parties (6.4% of applications) managed to squeeze through the sieve of executive committees. The figures for the parties which are loyal to the power are totally different: 2906 (86.4%). The leopard of electoral authoritarianism cannot change its spots. We had no doubts about it. A thaw in relations with the West is one thing. Belarusian power is ready for any verbal innovation in this case. But non-admission of independent observers is another thing. In a word, nothing really changes.
In August A. Lukashenko renewed the practice of visiting enterprises and talking to work collectives. It would seem that presidential elections, settled for October, would be the central topic of communication. One month is left before the forthcoming “exam” (if we take into account advance voting). However, as we’ve supposed it, the power definitively gave up on mobilization of the electorate. On the contrary, all its efforts are directed towards its demobilization. Refusal to take the “exam” means the complete abandonment of the policy of social populism, denial of any dependence of the power on the society. This is the logical development of electoral authoritarianism on the stage when it’s unable to concentrate resources anymore.
On the 4th of August A. Lukashenko mentioned a possible release of A. Statkevich “in the near future”. He met his pledge on the 22nd of August. We didn’t expect such rapidness and supposed that the release would happen in September. We are sincerely glad that we made this mistake.
Our skepticism about Belarusian model’s return to the trajectory of economic growth in the second half of the year was justified, contrary to the bright hopes of the head of the Ministry of Economy V. Zamirovskiy. Further still, judging by the events in the international markets, negative trends in Belarusian economy received and additional stimulus during the last month of summer.

IISEPS executive board

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