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05 June 2023, 17:15

Centralized exam, response to attempts to disintegrate CIS and deadline for healthcare in multifaceted President's Week

Александр Лукашенко 30 мая рассмотрел кадровые вопросы
Александр Лукашенко 30 мая рассмотрел кадровые вопросы

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.

What did Lukashenko ask the heads of the special services of the CIS countries about? What tasks did the president set for the new appointees? What will happen to the former head of the State Border Committee? Will Belarus and Russia have a single currency? How did Lukashenko react to the confusion with the results of the centralized exam? This and much more are in the latest episode of BelTA's special project President's Week!

Digital ruble and reserve currency. What did Lukashenko want to learn from Nabiullina?

The working week of the head of state began on 29 May with a meeting with Goverbor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina, who arrived in Minsk to participate in meetings of the Interbank Currency Council of the Central Banks of Belarus and Russia and the Advisory Council on Monetary Policy of the Central (National) Banks of the EAEU member states.

The common phrase that money loves silence has proven its relevance once again. The interlocutors, especially the head of the Russian Central Bank, were laconic and the most delicate financial issues were discussed behind closed doors. At the beginning of the meeting, Aleksandr Lukashenko lauded the absolute authority of Elvira Nabiullina recognized even by the common enemies of Belarus and Russia, and, appealing to her vast experience and knowledge, outlined a range of issues of interest: digital ruble, de-dollarization, reserve currency.

“I would like to learn something, ask a number of questions that are on the lips of many heads of state today. You see this in our speeches. Understanding things by and large (about reserve currency and so on), we don't quite understand when this will happen and how it will go. Therefore, I really want to know your point of view, the point of view of your colleagues about it,” the president said.

When we discuss the introduction of a single currency at highest-level meetings, I often quote you and the chairman of our National Bank who say that this is not an easy process.

At the same time, the Belarusian head of state noted that “this question is often raised by some patriotic people in Russia and Belarus”. “I would like to know what you think about it today. I know your long-standing position on this matter,” he said. “As for the currency council, I appreciate your work. "You are a highly respected central bank governor. Even our enemies have acknowledged that Elvira Nabiullina has done a great job steering the Russian economy through the turbulent times, through the sanctions. This is an almost exact quote of our enemies. But I would like you to tell me more about the digital ruble, which is so much talked about. What is it, how will we move in this direction? But the most important thing for me is the reserve currency.”

The head of state noted that the international economy is being de-dollarized now. In this regard, he asked the opinion of the head of the Russian Central Bank how far advanced this process is. "Naturally, new reserve currencies will emerge. I keep encouraging my colleagues to keep moving forward and to be proactive in order not to lag behind. Can this process be fast-tracked? Or is it still a long process?" the president asked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also invited Elvira Nabiullina to discuss a number of other issues that had already been discussed between the parties. "I would like to hear your opinion about the problems that the central banks of Belarus and Russia are facing today. Are there any issues that still need to be addressed between us?" the head of state said.

New appointments. Who got the new portfolios?

On 30 May the president announced new appointments. The head of state appointed Konstantin Molostov, the head of the Grodno Border Group, as Chairman of the State Border Committee and gave his approval to the appointment of local authorities.

Whose border policies have become frenzied and why does Belarus need a ‘strong fist'?

When appointing the new head of Sate Border Committee, Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded to raise the border troops to a new level. This is due to the ever-aggravating situation on the border. After all, today even Ukraine's border policy has become as frenzies as those pursued by Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The president made an important emphasis on the work of the so-called border special forces –the border service special operations unit OSAM (which, by the way, celebrated its 30th anniversary on 31 May). He separately touched upon the issue of working with those who have already served in the border troops. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, they should be kept in good shape, not lost sight of and in no case lost in civilian life, because "these are very expensive people" in whom the state has invested a lot of effort and money.

The head of state noted that the border troops get special attention not because the president once served there. Although, it also plays a role. “I served as an ordinary border guard, in other words, I know what a border is. Therefore, if I arrive at the border, you won't be able to deceive me by showing a nice facade: I know exactly what to inspect, I know the types of border patrols and how they operate,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“The border troops have been working very hard lately. You know it well. They had to work a lot with these illegal immigrants; murdered migrants are still dumped across the border by Poles and Lithuanians. Let's leave this matter to God. These are their problems, not ours. I believe that there is still room for improvement in the border service. We must turn to the best practices of the Soviet Union and adapt them to the current situation,” the president emphasized.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Konstantin Molostov served as an ordinary border guard and then as the head of a border outpost and that fact scored points with him.

“The head of a border outpost is a man who knows far and beyond. But you must understand that life will not be quiet for you. We have heard Ukraine's recent rhetoric. It used to be the border where we had practically no border patrols at all. We had border guards there but we always regarded Ukrainians as our kin people. You see the position Ukraine has taken with respect to Belarus today. They are always escalating the situation. Today, Ukraine's border policy is as frenzied as that of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. This is wrong,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Konstantin Molostov
Konstantin Molostov

The president demanded to work out new approaches toward the improvement of border troops. There is no need for a new system, just improvements to the current one. “We must prioritize mobile groups. Every detachment should have them.

You should decide on ‘a strong fist' which border guard detachments or groups will be able to use in case of some emergency situations on the border or attacks on the country,” the head of state said.

Work in this direction is already underway, Konstantin Molostov informed the head of state.

"We need to beef up this component. But this must be done in close contact with the state secretary [of the Security Council] and the Defense Ministry," Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

Speaking about former head of the State Border Committee Anatoly Lappo, the president noted that he is a very competent and intelligent person with a wealth of experience. “A true military man. After he takes some rest, we will see what role to assign to him: it can be a military or civilian position,” the head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also drew Konstantin Molostov's attention to the so-called border special forces. “Find a way to reinforce them. It should be a very reliable force that you can use at any moment. I have a general idea about this unit. It performed well during the migrant crisis. You need to make sure that this special unit is always on standby and ready for action. But keep in mind that no more military personnel will be sent to reinforce the border troops. We need to use the forces that we have,” he said.

The president suggested exploring new approaches and forms of work. “A lot of people have performed this kind of military service. A border guard is always a border guard. This is a well-trained and principled person. Therefore, you should always keep track of these people among the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the special unit based in Maryina Gorka, the rapid response forces. Those who quit should be kept in mind, and these are thousands of people, in addition to mobilization reserve. We should have people who will take training courses with border troops. They will keep doing their civilian jobs, but you will call them up a couple of times a year in order to keep them in good shape. We need to train such people: in border troops, internal troops, special forces in the army. These are very ‘expensive' people. We invest a lot in them, so they should not be lost,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Important post, not last in the career

Appointing former Housing and Utilities Minister Andrei Khmel as Grodno Mayor, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that the new position will offer new experience and knowledge for his career growth in the future.

“Andrei Valeryevich, frankly speaking, I have been thinking about giving you some other work,” the head of state said. The president explained that his point of view on this matter differs from the position of some members of the government. “I consider you a highly qualified person; I remember your reports from Vitebsk Oblast. You have a very good understanding of the topic. When I received a request from [Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir] Karanik and other Grodno Oblast authorities I thought this would be the right position for you. And not your last one, of course. I really hope it will not be the last job in your career,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The experience of running such a large regional center as Grodno will be useful for future possible career appointments and will come in handy for other government positions, the president stressed. “You need to know this level - regional or urban, the level of a regional city. Grodno is a big city. It is your homeland (you are from Grodno Oblast), this is also very important.”

“I think that your work in a new role will give you new experience, knowledge and help you develop new strategies,” the head of state said. “I really like your attitudes and the way you work. The post of a minister of a very important yet relatively small agency [Housing and Utilities Ministry] seems invisible. But it is not true! For me it was noticeable.”

President's instructions for local authorities

Making personnel decisions, the president told local authorities that things will not be easy. “Things will not be easy; you are on the front line. Difficult times are ahead of us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president recalled that the elections of local councils and deputies of the House of Representatives will be held next year. The Belarusian People's Congress will be held in a new format. These campaigns should be smooth and fair. “The presidential election is just around the corner. Therefore, special attention should be paid to public outreach efforts,” the head of state said.

“There are no questions that do not concern you. Schools, community centers, sports facilities, hospitals… These issues fall within your scope of reference. We should avoid the situations like the one we have recently had in the town of Uzda. At the recent meeting, I said that the commission would revisit the hospitals they had already inspected. And you know what? They went to Uzda and the situation there turned out to be worse than during their first visit. This is unacceptable. You need to sort things out in the district and the town. This is a very interesting job. Get down to work and oversee the whole process. I ask again to be attentive to people, specialists. Don't shoot from the hip. When a problem cannot be fixed, please talk to people and explain. Everything should be fair, then fewer people will be dissatisfied,” the president said.

You should be deeply involved in everything that is going on in your district. Even if an enterprise in Orsha is of national subordination, it's still your responsibility. Human resources and their performance are your responsibility. If something goes wrong, report to the President Administration. They are responsible for personnel matters. New appointments are good ones. I really hope that there will be a result,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The head of state touched on the situation in Orsha District: “A very interesting city and district. There is potential to untap there. Things are good in agriculture, but management could be more efficient. This pertains to the manufacturing sector, too. Orsha is a beautiful city. Russia is nearby. Russia is ready to buy everything they manufacture in Orsha.”

Addressing Igor Moroz, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that his new position as chairman of the Orsha District Executive Committee is an opportunity for him to shine: “This is a good start. If you do well there, your career prospects will be bright.”

The head of state also mentioned the specifics of Orsha District where Aleksandr Lukashenko was born and where he still often travels and is intimately familiar with the state of affairs there. “Professionals are important. Do not shoot from the hip, try to figure out the root of the problem. Stick to your policy without looking at who is around you,” the Belarusian leader noted. “This is the homeland of the president. There are many people who will be asking for favors. Never mind them. Or do but make your own decisions.”

Centralized exam brought about a lot of confusion and how Lukashenko put things in order

When making new appointments, the head of state commented on the recent situation around the centralized exam for school leavers in the country. The president commented on the situation and slammed the score calculation system.

There were a lot of complaints from children, their parents asking to explain the reasons for the score which turned to be lower than it was during the rehearsal testing.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the centralized exams system should be simple and clear.

“The centralized exam has brought about a lot of confusion. They failed to make this score calculation system simple and understandable. They decided to draw up complicated statistical figures. Who needs them? In my time at school everything was clear: you got a 3 for some knowledge of the subject, a 4 - for good knowledge and a 5 - for very good knowledge. Here they used the computer to calculate these points,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“We need a simple and clear system. Next week we need to get back to this issue once again. Families keep their eyes on their children's enrollment and it is natural. But they do not understand what we want from children. Most importantly, they write to me that the current exam system “is identical” to the one we had in the last two years, when children sat exams at school. Why did we decide to reinvent the wheel this time?” the president demanded to sort out the problems related to the school graduation exams.

Consider every complaint and explain everything. What instructions did Lukashenko give?

According to Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Sergeyenko, the president set a task to revise the organization of centralized exams which took place in the country's secondary schools in May, to check and clarify the results.

He said that the work would be conducted in two main directions. “All complaints will be addressed. Explanations will be provided to all parents, all school leavers. Secondly, we will take a look at the organization of the work of the Education Ministry. We will see how fair everything is, whether the methodology approved by the Education Ministry corresponds to today's requirements, and whether there have been any violations there,” Igor Sergeyenko said. He emphasized that the tests were made on the basis of the school curricula.

“The president is looking into the issue. We have been tasked to consider every appeal, every complaint objectively and promptly.

We will be working on it in the coming days,” Igor Sergeyenko said.

What was Lukashenko briefed about by the head of his security service?

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Head of the Belarus President's Security Service Dmitry Shakhrayev to receive his report on 30 May.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Dmitry Shakhrayev
Aleksandr Lukashenko and Dmitry Shakhrayev

The president was briefed on the current state of affairs and the plans to further improve the work of the Security Service.

Decree on gardening partnerships

On 31 May Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko signed Decree No. 155 “On gardening partnerships” that aims to resolve the most pressing issues facing residents of summer houses. The document addressed all loopholes and contradictions in the current legislation. It streamlined the process of resolving issues in gardening associations. It improved approaches to the external management of partnerships and to creating conditions for infrastructure development, to keeping these places clean and neat.

One of the key provisions is the possibility of transferring high-voltage power networks of partnerships to the state-run energy supply organizations, as well as transferring internal networks with the subsequent conclusion of direct energy supply contracts with members of gardening partnerships.

The document took on board people's views on calculation of membership fees, thus the calculation method was adjusted. Another important point that will help restore order in many horticultural partnerships is granting local authorities the right to appoint a chair of the board of partnerships in case of the prolonged absence of the chair.

In addition to that, the document spells out the procedure of making decisions by members of partnerships on partnerships' inclusion into a settlement or the formation of a settlement on the territory of partnerships.

An archive photo
An archive photo

The decree also regulates the process of the transfer of ownerless garden houses to communal ownership. The document allows inviting an audit organization or an auditor to carry out an internal audit of the activities of a partnership.

The list of documents that members of a partnership can get access to has been expanded and specified. Additional measures have been established to restore order on the territory of partnerships.

The document comes into force six months after its official publication. It will invalidate Decree No. 50 as of 28 January 2008 “On streamlining the operation of gardening associations” that now regulates these issues.

Lukashenko meets with heads of security services of the CIS states

On 1 June, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with participants of the 52nd meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Security Agencies and Special Services. The head of state made conceptual statements regarding the situation around the CIS, security threats in the region, the true causes of the conflict in Ukraine, and the intentions of the West to implement the violent scenario of toppling the government in Belarus.

“The fact that all the heads of security agencies have arrived in Belarus shows that you see what is happening around our borders, and you understand what can happen," the president said.

The head of state noted that politicians and economists in the CIS countries could sometimes disagree in their views, but the special services have always been in close contact. "We must act in this vein now," he said.

About the conflict in Ukraine

"After the special military operation began in Ukraine and after they began to impose large-scale sanctions against Belarus and Russia, some people in our countries began to hesitate. This is probably natural. Very turbulent events happened instantly, and it takes some time to assess the situation," Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “But the special services have always kept in touch. They act calmly, quietly, imperceptibly, as befits special services. The West knows little about these contacts, so it is not that furious and makes fewer attacks on you, our allies. Meanwhile, we and Russia are at the epicenter of these turbulent events.”

Speaking about the situation in Ukraine the president said: “I absolutely agree with President Putin's words that it was not us who started this war. It started long before 2014. It started with that Nazi-like coup. We saw where they were taking Ukraine. We saw who was in the forefront.”

The president also cited the example of Russia. Since 2014 many ‘patriots' have been calling for actions to protect ethnic Russians in Donbass. “They were the most vocal in pushing for such action. Similar voices were heard here, too. Well, such action was taken. Where are these ‘patriots' now? Some of them fled through Verkhny Lars, others through Belarus, but thank God, we and Russia have strict rules... And now they are criticizing the leadership of Russia from Israel, or from Georgia. Why are you criticizing? Yesterday you were ardent supporters of the operation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Just imagine if Mexicans started mistreating U.S. citizens in Mexico? Mexico would have simply ceased to exist,” the president added.

The head of state stressed that the Ukrainian authorities had many options to use and ensure their people live peacefully in all of Ukraine. “But neither former [presidents] Yanukovich, Poroshenko, nor the current [president] Zelensky took advantage of any of them. Why didn't they even try? Did they want a war? No, they didn't. They were just pushed to it by those who identified and exploited their vulnerabilities,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state expressed confidence that if it had not begun just over a year ago, it would have started the following day, but with worse conditions for Russia and Belarus. “We saw this coming. The only mistake we made, probably, is that we didn't resolve this issue in 2014-2015, when Ukraine had no army or high morale... We wanted to settle it peacefully. They, however, used this time to develop combat-ready armed forces,” the president said. This intention had already been confirmed by the participants of the peace talks, including former French President Francois Hollande. “They frankly admitted that they were doing everything to prepare Ukraine for war with Russia,” the Belarusian leader said.

Addressing representatives of the security and special services of the CIS countries, the president said: “We should all calm down. I ask you to influence the policy inside your countries to make sure we do not part ways. This can be very dangerous.”

About the situation in and around the CIS

“No one needs us, except for other countries that emerged on the post-Soviet space after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact, we speak the same language, we have a common economy, we have common markets, we cooperate in the manufacturing industry, and so on. It took generations to achieve it. So why destroy it? Why ruin this common market?” the president asked rhetorically.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, closer cooperation between the former Soviet republics brings them significant economic benefits. When, for example, Uzbekistan stepped up cooperation with the Commonwealth, this generated an extra $1.5 billion for the country, and the figure is even higher today. “It means that it is here where we belong. No one invited you to other markets. Why ruin it today?” the head of state asked.

The president recalled how he once tried to convince the leaders of Ukraine and Georgia not to rush out of the CIS. “It will be more difficult to return, but there will be no escaping it. Economic considerations will push us to do it,” he is convinced.

“Here is another example. It seems that Ukraine means the world for Europe, the USA. They threw in their lot with Ukraine. If so, they need to support it. Yet, when it comes to basic things… As soon as Ukraine took out its grain from warehouses and started sending it to Europe, everyone shut themselves off from it, including frenzied Balts, and frenzied Poles, and even Slovaks. Everyone closed their markets for Ukrainian grain. Why? Because prices for their own grain began to drop. Farmers got indignant. Grain is just one thing. What else will Ukraine be able to sell on the Western market? Nothing. Once the war is over, they will come to us anyway,” the Belarusian leader is sure.

An uncertain situation has also evolved in Moldova, the president noted. Due to short-sighted decisions of local politicians, the country's economy has started to contract. “Is it really what they wanted?” asked the head of state.

“The key is economy and people's well-being,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The president gave another example: the West is trying to bring Belarus and Russia to their knees, but this only leads to the opposite. “A revolution is already unfolding there. Questions arise as to why they give so much money to Ukraine to kill people, while their own lives are getting worse and worse. And this trend is not just taking shape, it will soon reach its peak. Today, the West and the Americans want some pause in Ukraine, they want to bring hostilities to a halt. Why so? In order to hold elections, first of all, in the United States of America. Let them sit down at the negotiating table and come to an agreement to stop the war, instead of looking for some ways to achieve a respite before they start anew. We have gone through this many times. We are not buying it,” the head of state said.

On attempts to disunite the CIS states

“The military and political situation around the CIS is aggravating and will continue to escalate. We need to understand that the big players are trying to pull us, Russia, Belarus, the Central Asian states, apart, using carrots and sticks. We must not allow this. This is my firm belief. I feel it in my gut. After all, I have been working as president for quite some time now. We see the growing militarization of the NATO countries and the unprecedented concentration of troops near our common territory, the incitement of conflicts,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president touched on Poland that dumped its old weapons to Ukraine and that is equipping its army with modern U.S. equipment. “The United States has designated Poland as the main pillar of NATO in Europe. But, fortunately (I am not rejoicing at this, but there is nothing to be sad about), they are creating problems not only on our borders but are picking up a fight with Germany. In my opinion, Poland, without any reason, acts like an elephant in the room. But this is up to them,” the head of state stressed.

The already strong political and economic pressure by the United States and the EU is building up, and blatant attempts to deter the scientific and technological development of the CIS countries continue, the president noted. At the same time, contradictions between the United States and the European Union are growing, Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “The United States is not only trying to use the European Union in the war in Ukraine (they have already robbed them blind) but also in their confrontation against China. The trade between China and the European Union is colossal. Pragmatists in the EU understand that the severance of relations between the European Union and China, which the United States is pushing for, will lead to even more dire economic consequences in Europe,” the president explained.

The collective West uses international law as an instrument of pressure on us, but completely ignores it when it is beneficial to them, the head of state emphasized. “But this law virtually does not exist any longer,” he added.

On the main security threats to the CIS countries

“Today one of the key threats is information and psychological warfare and fake information. The purpose of such actions is to undermine the authority of our states in the international arena. And not only that. Take the recent drone attacks on the Russian Federation. What was their impact in military terms? Almost zero. However, this can work pretty well when used as part of the information warfare,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “People start talking about such things both in Russia and here, and in other countries. Therefore, the information and psychological warfare embraces everything: economy, scientific and technical cooperation, internet, and even armed provocations,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state stressed that the West's media monopoly, in particular the control over the internet, the main social networks and international media, only serves this goal.

“They use this democracy slogan to protect this monopoly and to prevent a multipolar world almost manically. There is nothing behind their ‘democracy'. There is no democracy there. Thank God, we have already understood that. We have seen how the United States act and what they are trying to make us do. Using this slogan, the Western elites are working to disrupt our integration processes, force our countries to abandon partnerships and artificially create points of tension in and around the CIS,” the president said.

The most eloquent example of this is the current situation in Ukraine, which is used as a bargaining chip in geopolitical games today, the head of state said.

“Intelligence information which we receive, including thanks to the partnership between the intelligence agencies, shows that the abovementioned threats will continue increasing in the foreseeable future,” the Belarusian leader said. “If some of us think that we will be able to sit it out, we will not. Recent events in Kazakhstan serve as a blatant example. There's always an internal element. Such things do not come from nothing. There is always some internal element.

There are forces who are interested in destabilization, in returning to power, and so on. Foreign secret services use this internal element and quickly create a whole bunch of other elements around it to destabilize the situation in our countries. Kazakhstan is a vivid example of it and of our strength when we act united. It may seem we did not do much, but they saw our determination and backed off. That is why we need to stand by each other.”

About the preparations for a violent scenario to topple the government

“As far as Belarus is concerned, Poland, Lithuania and, unfortunately, Ukraine provide a training ground for members of illegal armed groups; these countries are trying to create dormant extremist cells in our country. We have fresh evidence of this,” the president noted.

The head of state recalled the recent joint operations with Russia that resulted in the seizure of explosives and hence the prevention of terrorist attacks in Belarus. “This fact shows that they won't leave us alone,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Militants are being trained in Ukraine; they are honing their skills on the frontline. Some of self-exiled Belarusians die there. Such units are being trained in Poland, Lithuania and Czechia to be sent to Belarus at the right moment. This is no longer 2020, when girls went to rallies wearing short white skirts and holding flowers. People are ready to come here with weapons. Therefore, we have to pay a lot of attention to protecting our borders,” the head of state remarked.

The president noted that it is no longer enough for the self-exiled opposition to make statements for the media to get funding from Western curators. Now they demand decisive action. In other words, money in exchange for terrorist attacks, an armed fight. “Pay attention to this. This pertains to all our states,” the president of Belarus warned.

“In other words, they are preparing a violent scenario to topple the government. We see this. We will not allow this to happen,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“You are well aware that you are also facing these threats to some extent. Do not allow provocations and pressure. Any actions and decisions of the CIS states that do not meet the expectations of the West can become a pretext for accusations and sanctions. Your role in such a situation is becoming much more important,” the president said.

The CIS Council of Heads of Security Agencies and Special Services is one of the platforms for developing a response to such a hostile policy.

“I am sure that today's meeting will also be effective and you will make specific decisions to counter the challenges that I have outlined.

I am absolutely sure that only by joining efforts will we be able to resist this aggressive attack and cope with all threats.

Today we are able to do this, and we need to keep it up,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Meeting with Governor of Lipetsk Oblast of Russia Igor Artamonov

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Governor of Lipetsk Oblast of Russia Igor Artamonov in Minsk on 1 June.

The head of state noted that Igor Artamonov knows Belarus well, and that the parties have already created a good groundwork for further expansion of cooperation. This is confirmed by active ties with Lipetsk Oblast over the past two years and the economic statistics, the president said.

Bilateral trade over the past year totaled $330 million. “The figure is not bad, but half a billion is better. Therefore, our goal is $500 million. I think we will reach this goal in the near future,” the Belarusian leader is convinced. “There are enough reserves. Moreover, we are starting to reap the fruits of the momentous decisions within the framework of the union of Belarus and Russia.” In this regard, Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled the many decisions that were made at the level of the heads of state.

“Making momentous decisions, we supported our governments and ministers in the development of cooperation, primarily industrial cooperation,” the Belarusian leader said.

Lukashenko on effects of withdrawal of Western companies

The president drew attention to how much progress Russia has made in agriculture. Belarus contributed to this. Today the cooperation agenda includes high-tech industries, primarily microelectronics.

“Western companies are gone (and good riddance). We will develop our own capacities. You know that our former homeland - the Soviet Union – did well without the West. It's just that the lack of vision led to the disintegration of the country. We did well then, we will do well now too," Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

“The key things for our economy are technological sovereignty and industrial cooperation. Today we need to cooperate, which is what we are doing," the president continued.

Other former Soviet nations are joining in. “We are exploring and finding new avenues of cooperation. We do not only develop specific programs, but also implement specific contracts to set up certain manufacturing facilities. Cooperation is gaining momentum; we have a huge positive experience. We have a good basis for further economic development,” the head of state stressed.

As for cooperation with Lipetsk Oblast, there is solid groundwork to build up cooperation. “I am convinced that our project at Lipetsk Tractor Plant where we want to set up a joint production of Amkodor vehicles can become a powerful starting point. This brand is well-known in Russia and is in great demand,” the Belarusian leader said.

“The departure of Western companies has freed up space on the market for us. We can expand cooperation and step up joint work,” the president said.

At the meeting, mention was made of the urban electric transport program launched in Lipetsk Oblast several years ago. “Sooner or later, any city in Belarus and Russia will face this problem. Indeed, cities are growing bigger. Therefore, environmentally friendly vehicles will be needed in increasing volumes. We are ready to supply you with a full line-up of passenger and agricultural machines, trailers and attachments. This also applies to road vehicles,” the head of state assured.

In agriculture, the president proposed to develop cooperation in the processing of farm products. He also considers cooperation in the modernization of grain drying facilities to be promising. “We are working in the Russian construction market," Aleksandr Lukashenko continued. “We are ready to build any facility, if necessary, as you can see for yourself having visited Minsk Arena.”

The parties also talked about preparations for the Days of the Republic of Belarus in Lipetsk, which are scheduled for the autumn of this year. “We will showcase our biggest achievements and the results of our joint work," the head of state said.

He stressed that all the agreements reached during the visit will be fulfilled by Belarus: “You can be 100% sure that we will fulfill them. We are responsible people. This is not charity. This is our life, our economy. If the economy functions properly, then the country develops. Therefore, I am ready to discuss with you any questions that you put before me and make a decision.”

How should the national healthcare change?

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has signed a decree "On improving the efficiency of the healthcare system". Following the government conference held on 23 May 2023, the head of state gave specific instructions to streamline healthcare institutions at all levels, to create conditions for the provision of high-quality medical care to the population and to pay special attention to rural communities.

The chairmen of local authorities shall be personally responsible for the sanitary and engineering status of buildings and structures of healthcare institutions.

The Healthcare Ministry shall revise the regulatory legal acts regulating medical and pharmaceutical activities, the provision of paid medical services, taking into account law enforcement practice.

Under the document, medical institutions need to adjust medical examination procedures, and to reduce the waiting period for high-tech surgical interventions and diagnostic tests.

Additional measures are needed to address the problem of shortage of medics, especially in rural areas, improve the quality of their training and retention in the workplace. Salaries of medical workers will be revised upward.

An archive photo
An archive photo

Instructions have been given to ensure the development of new medicines, to increase production and expand the range of domestic medicines, and to improve the management system of the pharmaceutical industry.

The interdepartmental working group, set up by the president, will continue auditing the healthcare system until the end of the year, including the monitoring of solutions to the identified problematic issues.

Reports on the results of this work will be submitted to the head of state in January 2024.

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