Valaam, milk powder candies, concern about UN, personnel decisions in intensive President’s Week

The work schedule of the Belarus president is always full of events. Aleksandr Lukashenko holds conferences and working meetings on the most topical matters concerning the country’s development, regularly visits the regions, goes on foreign trips and welcomes foreign guests, talks to reporters, signs decrees and laws. And even if there are no public events, it does not mean that the head of state does not work. It must be said that even when he relaxes, for instance, by playing ice hockey or chopping firewood, Aleksandr Lukashenko happens to find the time to give yet another instruction. All the decisions must be prompted by life, he likes to say.

The President’s Week project is intended for those, who want to keep up with the head of state, be up-to-date on the latest statements and decisions of the Belarusian leader.

How did informal communication between Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Russia Vladimir Putin proceed? Why is this format important? When will the production of milk sweets according to a Chinese recipe begin in Belarus? Did the president like the test batch of the sweets? Can Belarus’ voice be heard in the United Nations Organization? What is this organization evolving into? The appointment of ministers, new tasks for the Housing and Utilities Ministry, a “political” crop that can be used to make gunpowder, wishes concerning the domestic movie industry, oil industry, and many other things are in the latest episode of BelTA’s special project President’s Week.

TEMPORAL AND SPIRITUAL AFFAIRS. What did Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin talk about informally?

A working visit of Aleksandr Lukashenko to Russia began the previous week. On Sunday, 23 July the heads of state held the official part of the negotiations in the Konstantinovky Palace in St. Petersburg and went sightseeing to Kronstadt together. BelTA has already covered all the details in the previous episode of the special project President’s Week.

However, the presidents continued fruitful cooperation afterwards as well. The business trip of the Belarusian leader ended only on Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday were full of negotiations and informal talks with Vladimir Putin, although much of it stayed out of the limelight due to understandable reasons. The most serious matters are discussed in this format these days. And it was the most important component of the trip to Russia.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin talked in the afternoon on Sunday and on Monday. They combined the talks with a trip to Valaam Island. They talked even in the morning on Tuesday, 25 July before Aleksandr Lukashenko’ departure. Government officials, who are responsible for various areas, stayed in touch via a conference call. But the presidents mostly communicated one-on-one.

It was already noted that in their busy schedules the heads of state found some time to distract themselves with spiritual affairs. In Kronstadt Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin visited the Island of Forts Museum and Historical Park. They also went to the Stavropegic St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral. It is now believed to be the main temple of the Russian Navy.

The next day the presidents went together to the Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior, which is located on Valaam Island, Lake Ladoga, Republic of Karelia, Russian Federation. In the Transfiguration of the Savior Cathedral they paid their respects to relics of Sergius and Herman, the founders of the monastery. The heads of state also went to the Saint Vladimir hermitage where the Vladimir Church is located.

The Valaam Monastery is one of the most revered monasteries in Russia. The monastery attracts over 100,000 pilgrims and tourists every year. The previous visit of the heads of state to Valaam Island happened in July 2019.

CLOSE EYE ON HARVESTING. Why did a deputy prime minister bring sweets to the president?

Progress of the harvesting campaign and personnel matters concerning the Agriculture and Food Ministry were the key items on the agenda as Deputy Prime Minister Leonid Zayats delivered his report to the president on 27 July.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “The number one question today is the situation in the fields, progress in harvesting. The second question is about personnel. You had to suggest a candidate for the position of the agriculture minister this week [the former Agriculture and Food Minister Igor Brylo has been appointed the president’s aide for Vitebsk Oblast]. I would like to hear your suggestions. I will try to travel [to the regions] in the near future. I want to see the western part of the country. Grodno Oblast is your area of responsibility. We might also have a look at Brest Oblast and review the performance of the Agriculture and Food Ministry as a whole.”

Leonid Zayats told Aleksandr Lukashenko about the pace of the ongoing harvesting campaign and about the state of vehicles and machines. “The technical readiness is very high, harvesters are in good condition, and drying facilities are operating at 100% capacity. We are waiting for good weather on the edge of the field in order to start harvesting. We use every hour to harvest grain crops. Technical capabilities and human resources are sufficient for harvesting everything in time and without losses,” the deputy prime minister told reporters later on.

The government and the head of state took all the necessary decisions to facilitate grain harvesting, including decisions to provide agricultural organizations with fuel, spare parts for equipment, and additional vehicles.

Aleksandr Lukashenko’s recent instruction to start making sweets out of pressed milk powder in Belarus was mentioned during the working meeting. Such sweets are extremely popular in China.

Officials quickly responded to the president’s instruction and a small trial batch has already been made. Pharmaceutical equipment was used to make the candies fast. This is why they are available in the form of large pills for now. But as they say, it is only the beginning.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “In China we saw the technology to produce various kinds of confectionery products. Candies in this case. Absolutely without any sugar. Just milk powder. We can add some herbal supplements. This is good, especially for children. Honestly speaking, when [Aleksandr Lukashenko’s son] Nikolai brought me these candies from China, I tried them. Certainly, it is not my kind of taste. But kids, little kids eat them with gusto. Why can’t we make them and sell them? And most importantly domestically.”

Leonid Zayats brought several variants of the candies. They contain whole milk powder, up to 40% of baby food, and milk whey. “The composition varies. But the taste is very pleasant. It is quite a good product for consumers,” he said. “This one contains currants. This one has ascorbic acid. If you drop two pills like that into a cup of warm water, it will taste like milk. Pleasant to consume. Sweet.”

“We should try them. Adult people. Particularly for kids. It is very important that we can add additives of vegetable origin,” the president noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that these organic sweets may have a good export potential. Not only in China where such sweets are already popular, but, for instance, in African countries, the deputy prime minister confirmed.

Leonid Zayats assured that it is not difficult to make such candies. But naturally it is necessary to polish the technology, come up with packaging, work out a marketing strategy, and maybe adjust the recipe in some cases.

“Children and adults should try them. It is necessary to make a sufficient amount and let them try them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded.

The president gave instructions to start mass production of these candies in Belarus by the end of the year.

POLITICAL BIAS. Why cannot Belarus calmly watch proceedings in the United Nations Organization?

On 27 July the president also met with Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Organization Valentin Rybakov.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “The United Nations Organization. What is it nowadays? What are the prospects of this organization from your point of view? Well, and what should we do in this organization? Naturally as one of the organization’s founding countries we cannot calmly watch what is going on over there. We’ve discussed the matter with the Russian president. I see that the UN Secretariat, a working body has already started working from the point of view of giving some preferences to one or two countries or to the West or the East. I mean this organization is kind of evolving into some servant organization. More depends on major powers. It is abnormal. Considering the pressure that major powers, the West exercise.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned the Russia-Africa summit, which is taking place these days, and the terrible pressure that the United States of America and Western Europe brought against its participants. “It is abnormal,” he stressed.

The president asked questions about the work of Belarus’ mission to the UN. He wondered whether the mission is present there only pro forma and what it can really do. “For instance, if Western countries have virtually refused to cooperate with us, well, we are now transferring diplomats to the areas where we need to work, where it is necessary to build up positions and the situation. Should we do the same to the United Nations Organization and treat it the way we treat Western states?” the Belarusian leader wondered.

Victories of Belarusian diplomacy

During the meeting Valentin Rybakov confirmed that criticism of the United Nations Organization began virtually since the moment the organization was founded and there are definitely things the organization and its secretariat should be criticized for. At the same time the United Nations Organization is more than a building or the secretariat. “It is 193 countries together with us. And as a founder of this organization Belarus actively works in it. We don’t prioritize work with international functionaries. We work with the countries that are represented in this organization,” Valentin Rybakov said.

As a result of the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions to step up work of the country’s permanent mission to the United Nations Organization. Valentin Rybakov told reporters after the meeting with the head of state: “We will continue doing it. There are a number of avenues where we very successfully work. Some of the avenues were born after speeches by Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko. In particular, the matter of fighting trafficking in persons, some other matters. This is why we will continue working actively, cooperating with countries, and promoting our national interests.”

Valentin Rybakov talked about the work of diplomats, who do their best to keep some negative things for Belarus from becoming an item on the agenda of the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly. One of the little victories secured by Belarusian diplomats is ending discussions about the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident in the UN Security Council. “We have closed the topic of the Ryanair incident virtually with one our speech in the Security Council. Our speech completely closed this chapter. The Security Council has never discussed the matter since,” Valentin Rybakov said.

Another example is a resolution on Chernobyl-related cooperation. Valentin Rybakov said: “This year we were supposed to present a draft resolution on Chernobyl-related cooperation. Understanding the regional situation, we refused to do it. We understood that our draft could have been amended by other countries. They have the full right to do it. They could have added things that we absolutely don’t condone. And then we would have been in a situation where we would have to submit the document and do something with it afterwards – revoke it, counteract all these negative aspects. We didn’t submit the draft resolution.”

Then Ukraine submitted a draft resolution on Chernobyl-related cooperation. “They virtually stole the complete text of the previous resolution, the previous draft from us. But to the surprise of Ukraine and European countries (the situation shocked them) Belarus and Russia acted as coauthors. Russia acted as a coauthor of the Ukrainian resolution. We even got calls from European colleagues, who wondered whether we had made a mistake and whether we actually understood what we were doing by coauthoring a resolution submitted by Ukraine. Yes, we do understand. It is a normal resolution. The text is good. We are satisfied with it. Why not? Chernobyl-related cooperation is a sacred thing for us,” Belarus’ representative to the UN said.

Valentin Rybakov pointed out that these seemingly small victories are not that easy to secure and they are very beneficial for the country. “We will continue this work,” the diplomat assured.

NOT AN EXILE. What personnel decisions did Aleksandr Lukashenko make?

On Friday, 28 July the head of state ended the work week by making a number of personnel appointments. The news of the personnel appointments day was already intriguing because three ministerial positions were already open: in the Housing and Utilities Ministry, the Transport and Communications Ministry, and in the Agriculture and Food Ministry considering the previously mentioned decision to appoint Igor Brylo the president’s aide for Vitebsk Oblast.

Two out of the three positions were filled in on Friday. Gennady Trubilo became the new housing and utilities minister while Aleksei Lyakhnovich will lead the Transport and Communications Ministry. Both ministers have been working as first deputy ministers in the respective ministries up till now. The president drew attention to this fact: “Apart from the tasks I’d like you to accomplish, I think it is more important that you know better than I do what needs to be done in the areas of work you’ve been entrusted with.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko went on saying: “Frankly speaking, I don’t remember that we have ever appointed deputy ministers as ministers. We’ve always looked for and selected new people. We wanted new professionals, who know these things, to come and take a fresh look at this or that agency. But in this case I believe that both appointees are well-trained people. I cannot say that the ministries and the former ministers had not been working well. This is why we opted for deputy ministers.”

At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko outlined tasks for each minister.

The president also authorized the appointment of a number of other officials and executives, including directors of key Belarusian enterprises. Aleksandr Lukashenko asked many of them detailed questions not only about their plans in the new positions but also about the state of affairs in their previous jobs.

The Housing and Utilities Ministry has to be visible

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that proposals to liquidate the Housing and Utilities Ministry by merging it with another one or by redistributing its functions and authority among other agencies had been made more than once. Aleksandr Lukashenko explained why he keeps the Housing and Utilities Ministry in place. But the head of state is against this approach because complaints about housing and utilities top the list of complaints submitted to the head of state and the Belarus President Administration.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I expect the ministry to be, first of all, visible. You understand what I am talking about. And secondly, I want this ministry to finally prove that it needs to exist. That the country needs the Housing and Utilities Ministry. You have to introduce novelties into this system, strictly control the execution of this entire functionality, which is entrusted to municipal authorities and other organizations. And I would like to see fewer complaints. I understand that it has always been like that. People have always lacked something: either a fence has not been repaired or a roof or a balcony.”

The president pointed out that it is necessary to clearly delineate functions and determine where the housing and utilities area starts.

Plenty of issues for the Transport and Communications Ministry to deal with

“As for the Transport and Communications Ministry, well, you know that we also have plenty of issues inside the country. And in mutual relations with our key partners. Both Russia and China. Particularly Russia. Transit and so on. A lot of issues exist,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the relevant matters had also been discussed at a recent meeting with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. “After the latest meeting with the Russian president I explained our approaches and agreements to [Prime Minister of Belarus Roman] Golovchenko. No rejection anywhere. Your job is to work,” he stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “We have to come to terms. Because logistics has become more complicated and, let’s say, tariffs on our goods are a serious matter. We would like these tariffs [on freight transportation and transshipment] to be lower. So that enterprises would not operate in the red due to logistics. Well, there is also the rolling stock and other matters. There are very many issues with the transportation of people. You will have to take care of all of it.”

Tasks for the former agriculture and food minister

The former agriculture and food minister Igor Brylo officially got a new job. He will work as the president’s aide, inspector for Vitebsk Oblast.

Aleksandr Lukashenko told Igor Brylo: “I have already told you, Igor. If you see it as an exile, it is your problem. You need to go through this stage. And if you immerse yourself entirely in your new role, you will produce results, and it will be a very useful personal result for you. As a scientist and an ideological worker with hands-on experience, you have everything to succeed. Now you need to come down to earth if you want to continue working. You still have a lot of time till retirement. Therefore, you need to get your act together and produce results. This is my offer to you,”

In his message to Igor Brylo, Aleksandr Lukashenko asked him not to override the oblast governor and work with the personnel more: “If necessary, report directly. You know, I often go there. You can call or make a report at any time. But Vitebsk Oblast should occupy the position it deserves. The situation is complicated. You understand this better than anyone. And you yourself were responsible [for Vitebsk Oblast]. Therefore, it is necessary to work there with full dedication.”

Political crop and gunpowder made out of flax

As he authorized the appointment of Oleg Buyanov as Director General of Orsha Linen Mill, the president recalled the importance of flax as a “political” crop: flax flowers are on the country’s national emblem.

The new executive talked about the main tasks he would like to accomplish in order to develop the enterprise. Those are fixing imbalances in commercial activities, work on raw materials supply, and deeper processing of raw materials.

Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded: “In short, you will be able to make gunpowder out of short fibers.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” Oleg Buyanov responded.

It is worth noting that gunpowder can be made out of flax and specialists believe that the resulting gunpowder will be more powerful than the conventional cotton-based gunpowder.

The president explained what he had in mind. Expanding the lineup of products made of flax is the idea. “I am hinting that it is necessary to expand this lineup. You shouldn’t make only these traditional ropes, sacks, and fabrics. You have to take a broader look and see what sells on the market these days,” he said.

The new executive knows the situation at the enterprise and is ready work. The president reminded about his special attitude to Orsha Linen Mill where Aleksandr Lukashenko’s mother had worked back in the day: “Watch out. I often visit the place. It is my native enterprise. My mother used to work there. But my personal feelings don’t matter. Although I still feel a bit nostalgic about it: I visited it often when I was a school student, I toured this linen mill. You know that it is a political enterprise. We have flax on our national emblem. This is why I would like you very much to work actively. If you see how the situation with raw materials can be fixed, I will be grateful. If there are problems with export, well, they are your problems.”

The head of state stressed that it is necessary to continue working with Europeans, for instance, despite the current situation. “Don’t think that nobody needs our fabrics because of the sanctions. Flax is needed everywhere. Starting with Russia, which grows flax and ending with [countries] to the south of us. They don’t grow flax. But the fabrics are good. This is why you just have to organize things. You and I will meet there after some time. Maybe next year. And you will tell me about the areas that need to be taken care of at this enterprise,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

All eggs in one basket and the effect of one granule

Belarusian manufacturers should explore new export destinations despite the openness and accessibility of the traditional Russian market. In particular, the matter was raised during a conversation with Vitaly Osipenko, who has just been appointed Director General of OAO SvetlogorskKhimvolokno. He has been working as the first deputy director, chief engineer of OAO Gomel Chemical Plant up till now. Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered about the performance of this enterprise.

Vitaly Osipenko said: “At present we satisfy all the applications from consumers for mineral fertilizers ahead of the forthcoming sowing campaign. We make new kinds of fertilizers. All the needs of the domestic market will be covered like that.”

“What about export?” the president kept asking.

According to Vitaly Osipenko, most of the exports are shipped to the Russian market. The Belarusian company also offers niche products, which major Russian manufacturers are unwilling to supply. “We have found our niche and offer a unique product with microelements and additives. Russian consumers eagerly buy it,” he said.

The president wondered whether Belarusian consumers are interested in compound mixed fertilizers. “There are issues with this interest. As for the technical side of things, we can satisfy the entire demand of the home market for compound fertilizers,” the head of the enterprise assured.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, it is necessary to correctly orientate the government and all the responsible individuals. “You see they put potassium separately into soil, phosphorus separately, and nitrogen separately. You offer a compound product,” the head of state explained.

“In one granule,” Vitaly Osipenko confirmed.

“Everything in one granule. Well, they should buy it. It produces a good effect. These products are sold in Russia, across the globe. But it is necessary to tell everyone that they cannot put eggs in one basket. Russia is a close country, a kindred country for us. But you know that they have these technologies and make these fertilizers. And they will make compound, mixed fertilizers and what not. This is why competition is a thing. And we need a broader spectrum of export so that we would not be pushed out of the only market. It is your task,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Raw materials for the Belarusian petrochemical industry

Oleg Zhebin is the new Director General of OAO Naftan. Oleg Zhebin has been working as a deputy director general (for chemical manufacturing) at the Polymir plant of OAO Naftan up till now.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Naftan and Mozyr Oil Refinery are closely monitored. Make sure to keep things in order. It seems that the performance of the oil refineries has been fixed. And Russians, the Russian president did great. They helped us a lot.”

“They are well-supplied with raw materials and are working steadily,” Oleg Zhebin confirmed.

The president stressed that it will be no problem to secure more raw materials. A favorable development of economic conditions is what matters. “If you need more raw materials, it will not be a problem. If economy doesn’t get worse, if it gets better, then surely raw materials will not be a problem. Products get sold, too. The demand is huge. Exporters tell me that we can sell anything we chose to export. In other words, you will be able to work in any situation. This is why I wish you success,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The things that matter, “blood and bandits”

Among other personnel decisions Aleksandr Lukashenko authorized the appointment of Yuri Aleksei as Director General of the Belarusian film studio Belarusfilm and set a number of key tasks for the new executive.

“Our film industry is a disaster,” the head of state said. “I am telling you right away that people in charge will be held accountable. Why so? Directors come and go and there is no result! The facilities are good, not worse than in other countries, including Russia. Apparently, we also share the blame for the situation because our personnel decisions were not entirely right. Maybe we did not pay enough attention to this matter.”

Speaking about the role of cinematography, Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled Vladimir Lenin’s statement who said that “of all the arts the most important for us is the cinema”. “Great Lenin spoke about this, you know this very well, too. And this is true, indeed,” the president noted. He stressed that the ideological and educational impact of cinema is unmatched. And now movies are watched not only on TV, but also via the internet.

According to the head of state, he really counts on the active work of Yuri Aleksei in his new role, but once again warned of responsibility for results. “We need to release a certain number of films in all kinds of genres and for all kinds of audiences. We might follow Russia’s path. Of course, we should not show as much bloodshed, banditry, murders, guns, rifles, feuds and so on. Though, we have lived through some periods that we need to show people on screen, the truth about these events. We should highlight really important and relevant topics (we have enough of them) in our films that would have an impact on people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to the president, one of the promising areas of work is cooperation between Belarusfilm and national television channels, Belteleradiocompany. Moreover, they are now updating their material and upgrading technology, equipping new studios, and exploring new areas of activity. “Therefore, you need to join efforts. You need to band together and act,” the president emphasized.

Patriotic education

The president authorized the appointment of Yuri Golubev as Rector of Brest State University named after A.S. Pushkin. Up till now he has been working as a prorector for education at Polotsk State University named after Euphrosyne of Polotsk. The president remarked that the Polotsk university’s rector Oleg Romanov had recently found another job (he now leads the political party Belaya Rus and is the head of the republican public association Belaya Rus). And now Yuri Golubev will quit, too. Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered: “It seems we have drained human resources in Polotsk a bit. Will it be a problem?”

“No. Everything is strong and reliable over there,” Yuri Golubev responded with confidence.

Speaking about Yuri Golubev’s appointment as the rector of Brest State University named after A.S. Pushkin, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “I don’t think you will have any complications with regard to administration and the relevant approaches over there. You are a person, who has made a career in this field. But there have always been issues with this university. I remember it since I was an MP. It has always been on the list of unreliable universities. I would like you as a patriotic man to build a system over there to make the kids understand where they live and what they should appreciate. I don’t see any particular problems for you in this regard.”

At the same time the president wished the new rector not to stop his career advancement. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that professionals are always in demand in the sphere of education. “You know that we have a lot of problems in education. A change of generation is in progress. This is why today we bet on experienced people and nobody will abandon the practice,” he said.

TO KEEP THE COUNTRY CALM. What did Aleksandr Lukashenko discuss with Natalya Kochanova and Igor Sergeyenko?

The organization of the forthcoming election campaign, matters concerning ideology and human resources were high on the agenda as the president met with Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Natalya Kochanova and Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Sergeyenko on 28 July.

The forthcoming election campaign was in focus. “We are about to begin an election campaign. It will be lengthy: this year and the next year starting with municipal government agencies, municipal councils [elections of deputies of various municipal councils], the Belarusian People’s Congress (a new area for us) and ending with a presidential election. On the one hand, mobilization of people and our mobilization. On the other hand, certainly, we have to organize things in a way to prevent the country and the society from rocking like it happened in the past,” the head of state pointed out.

Personnel and ideology were also among the matters raised by the president. “We also have many problems here, many issues. It seems we work somehow but I’d like this work to be more effective,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

Belarus will hold its first ever single voting day in 2024. The campaign will feature elections to the parliament and municipal councils of deputies of various levels. The last Sunday in February is envisaged as a single voting day. Thus, the first single voting day will take place on 25 February 2024.

Another innovation is the formation of the Belarusian People’s Congress, which acquired a constitutional status after a referendum in Belarus. The Constitution stipulates that the Belarusian People’s Congress is supposed to convene for its first meeting within 60 days after a single voting day. Thus, the last day to start the meeting of the Belarusian People’s Congress is 25 April.


Похожие статьи

Добавить комментарий

Ваш адрес email не будет опубликован. Обязательные поля помечены *

Кнопка «Наверх»