Government Bodies
Flag Sunday, 4 June 2023
Minsk Overcast sky +17°C
All news
All news
13 March 2023, 14:53

Peaceful atom, Belarusian adventure of Ukrainian James Bond. Details of non-trivial 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 does Belarus develop a peaceful nuclear industry? When will the Belarusian nuclear power plant operate at full capacity? Why did the president congratulate not only women ahead of 8 March but also present shoulder boards and awards to defense, security, and law enforcement officers? How did the Belarusian adventure end for a Ukrainian terrorist and his accomplices?

Prospects of Belarus' membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and details of a four-hour Council of Ministers session hosted by Aleksandr Lukashenko are also in the new episode of BelTA's YouTube project President's Week.

NUCLEAR INDUSTRY. Why are Russians sometimes irked by Belarus' demands concerning the nuclear power plant?

Aleksandr Lukashenko began his work week with a conference held on 6 March to discuss matters concerning the Belarusian nuclear power plant. “The construction of Belarus' first nuclear power plant is one of the biggest and most technologically advanced projects that we have carried out together with the Russians. A lot has already been done to implement this project,” the head of state said.

In particular, the first power unit has been put into operation and it functions steadily, producing electricity for the power grid. According to the president, the first unit has already generated more than 12.5 billion kWh since it went online, which allowed substituting over 3 billion m3 of natural gas and saving more than $400 million for the country. “The result is not bad for a start,” the Belarusian leader noted.

As for the second power unit, the physical start-up phase is underway, the unit is supposed to be connected to the grid in April 2023, Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

“I have repeatedly emphasized that radiation safety and operational reliability of the nuclear power plant is an overriding priority,” the head of state said. “We discussed these matters thoroughly when we were about to make the most serious decision on building the nuclear power plant, we took into account the entire world experience. The highest technologies are used here. It is the legacy of our people. Therefore, all aspects of the construction and operation of the nuclear power plant require special attention and a balanced approach.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that certain destructive groups opposed the construction of the nuclear power plant, especially during the 2020 election campaign. “You remember that all the alternative candidates that later fled the country promised to shut down the nuclear power plant if they came to power, although billions had already been invested in its construction. Our competitors pushed them to such rhetoric, first of all, unfortunately, our closest neighbors Poland and Lithuania. So what do we have today? Poland plans to build two nuclear power plants or maybe three. Lithuania also announced its intention to build its own nuclear power plant. Now think about it: what would have happened if we, having been carried away by political games, had stopped the construction or closed the nuclear power plant, or they had come to power and shut down this nuclear plant where about $5 billion had already been invested? That's their true colors,” the president said.

From the economic point of view for the sake of energy security the president urged to ensure efficient operation of the entire nuclear power plant. He added that the nuclear power plant has to reach full capacity as soon as possible. However, this should not be achieved at the expense of the construction quality, Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized. “I know that Russians sometimes complain that we put forward excessive safety and security demands. But they have to understand that we are a Chernobyl republic, that we were affected by the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,” he explained. “Therefore, safety is a number one matter, and we will demand the highest level of safety and absolute compliance with construction standards.”

“We truly stick to very high safety standards. It is better to commission the plant half a year or a year later rather than under-fulfill something,” the Belarusian leader said.

Belarusian Energy Minister Viktor Karankevich said that the first trial linkup of the second unit to the national power grid is scheduled for April. Work will be gradually done in April-September to increase the output of the reactor to the nominal level and tests will be carried out as part of trial commercial operation. The nuclear power plant as a whole is expected to be ready for commercial operation in October 2023 in accordance with commissioning programs.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being commissioned in compliance with all safety requirements. "The stage program provides for a certain number of tests and appropriate measures. The transition to the next stage is impossible without high-quality and accurate implementation of previous tests and measures,” the minister explained. "The number one task is nuclear and radiation safety of the facility."

AWARDS AND SHOULDER BOARDS. Who did Aleksandr Lukashenko award in the Palace of Independence on the eve of 8 March?

Aleksandr Lukashenko hosted not only Belarusian women but also those, who are entrusted with protecting peace and tranquility in the Belarusian land – men in uniform – in the Palace of Independence on the eve of International Women's Day.

Aleksandr Lukashenko presented government awards and general's shoulder boards to high-ranking officers.

“It is difficult to think of an event that would be more consonant with the spirit and meaning for the Year of Peace and Creation than today's ceremony,” the head of state said at the beginning of the event. “In line with a good tradition, in the first days of spring we celebrate the country's most successful women and the most courageous warriors,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

The president explained why mothers are held in such a high esteem in Belarus. According to him, motherhood is the highest purpose and meaning of life, the affirmation of unshakable human values, the basis of everything on this Earth. “After all, everything on our planet rests on unconditional maternal love, big women's hearts, their inexhaustible energy,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked all women, including all mothers of the country, for the huge role that they play in Belarus.

The president noted that today women, along with men, are making great strides in science and technology, manufacturing, food production and financial sector, construction, art, education and healthcare. They also successfully represent their Motherland at most prestigious forums and leading theatrical stages of the world, preserve and augment the cultural heritage of Belarus.

Addressing the officers, generals that were in attendance, the head of state emphasized that they are also the personification of the Year of Peace and Creation, because they reliably protect our sovereignty and independence, or, in other words, “our quiet and peaceful life”.

“In times like these, people begin to understand the true value of seemingly simple things - peace, order and calm,” the Belarusian leader stated.

According to the president, the awards and new shoulder boards that were presented in a solemn atmosphere are recognition of significant services to the Fatherland, acknowledgement of exceptional professionalism and demonstration of great trust of the Belarusian people.

“I believe that you are also well aware that it is our duty to maintain peace on Belarusian soil whatever it costs! I believe in each of you, in our army, people in uniform and all those who wear them today,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

MISSION POSSIBLE. How a Ukrainian terrorist and his accomplices were captured in Belarus

The men in uniform did not come to the award ceremony empty-handed. They brought a gift. “One can say this story is unbelievable. I once again beg your pardon for talking unofficially and wanting to tell you about this exceptional and unbelievable gift not as the president but as an ordinary person,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told participants of the award ceremony held on 7 March.

The head of state talked about the capture in Belarus of a terrorist sent by Ukrainian intelligence services and his accomplices, who had also been involved in an attempt to sabotage a Russian A-50 aircraft at the Machulishchi airfield.

The citizen of Ukraine, who also had a Russian passport, came to Belarus specifically in order to carry out a terrorist attack. He had been trained by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) with assistance of U.S. intelligence services. They provided the terrorist with all the necessary high-tech tools.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded those present about an act of sabotage previously committed at the Russian airfield Engels. Other groups carried it out but the terrorist, who came to Belarus, had been trained according to a similar program.

Small drones, which tracking systems have a hard time tracking, were chosen for blowing up the A-50 aircraft. Fortunately, the aircraft did not suffer any significant damage. The head of state explained: “It is not a Russian aircraft in Belarus' territory. I asked the Russian president to send an Air Force group to me so that we could keep an eye on the perimeter of our Belarusian borders and practice certain skills as part of the Belarusian-Russian regional military force. This aircraft has never flown into the territory of Ukraine. It didn't even get close to the border (it doesn't have to) of Poland, Lithuania – all these bastards that work against Belarus today. We worked very carefully. We didn't give anyone a reason for it.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave the strictest orders to defense, security, and law enforcement officers to arrest those involved in the failed terrorist attack. Despite all efforts of the terrorist and his overseers in Ukraine his location was identified within literally several days. Although at some point it looked like efforts of Belarusian defense, security, and law enforcement agencies would fail.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “They created a special program for him [the terrorist]. Most probably, the American CIA did it. He was given special telephones that allowed them to watch his every move in audio and video modes. They saw where he was travelling, who he was meeting with and talking to, and so on. And then there was a twin phone. It is very important. It is the second thing that surprised me. We made a small mistake when he left this phone in the apartment (we didn't know it, we were not aware of it), took the twin phone and they controlled him through this phone from then on. The SBU ordered him to do it so that they could see us right away when we entered this apartment following his trail. So it happened. Honestly speaking, I was in China back then and after your report I started doubting we would find him fast.”

The terrorist was captured in a manor in some dacha community outside Borovlyany. A printing house with all kinds of white-red-white items and other literature was found in the basement. “Thanks to our operatives – the State Security Committee, the Internal Affairs Ministry, and the border service – we found him and captured him. So far over 20 accomplices in Belarus' territory have been arrested. The rest are hiding over there [abroad],” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions to sweep the entire country clean. “It is a lesson for us. They are hiding and lying low. They sit and wait for something. Things will be the way they were in 1941. There is nothing to hide: when the Nazi came here, there were these cells and there were collaborators. They joined up and worked together with these fascists. Nothing has changed. This is why we have to find them,” the Belarusian leader said. “And I want to tell them to get ready. We are already coming for them. Our guys are already at their doorstep. They should get ready. The best option is for them to come and surrender. It will be a salvation for them. We will identify all of them. We will cleanse them from our society.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that actions to blow up the aircraft had been of no military significance. “Even if something had happened to this aircraft, it is not the only one. Everything was invented for mass media consumption. And everything was connected like links in one chain – a terrorist attack here in Machulishchi and events in Bryansk Oblast where a sabotage and reconnaissance force of about 40 or more scoundrels came from Ukraine's territory, shot civilians and injured a child. You are aware of it. Those were links of the same chain. In order to demonstrate to the West what they are still capable of. They need money after all. And our fugitive oppositionists expected to get funding in exchange for it,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also made some conclusions concerning Ukraine's leadership. “One conclusion. I thought that Ukraine needed peace, that Zelenskyy is concerned about his nation. President Zelenskyy is just a scumbag. Just a scumbag! Such operations cannot proceed without the authorization of the country's leader and the commander-in-chief. I say it to you as a president. A scumbag because he runs around Belarus, sends people to us, and, as I've already said, wants us to sign a non-aggression pact, make a deal to avoid any problems between us. But I said in response that we are not going to attack them. ‘No, let's sign an agreement under the aegis of the United Nations Organization with a promise that you will not attack us'. You've heard all my statements about that. And meanwhile… Well, we've been challenged,” the head of state stated.

At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that Belarus does not intend to get involved in the war: “If they expect us… After all, I know that they want us to get involved in the war upon orders of Americans… If you think that by challenging us you will pull us into the war, which is already going on all over Europe, then you are mistaken.”

“I want to stress it one more time, particularly for the local dirt bags and those, who fled: all of them have been identified, we will find them over there, abroad. And I tell the fugitive opposition once again: get ready, we are already coming for you. And don't cry. Don't post in these messaging apps. Our nerves are strong. We know what needs to be done,” the head of state added.

As a result of the counterterrorism operation the president decided to present government awards to the key participants. KGB Chairman Ivan Tertel was awarded an Order for Service to the Homeland, 1st class. Chairman of the State Border Committee Anatoly Lappo and Internal Affairs Minister Ivan Kubrakov were awarded an Order for Service to the Homeland, 2nd class. Other participants of the operation organized to capture the terrorist and his accomplices will be awarded as well. Even if there are thousands of them, nobody should be forgotten, Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

DID WHAT WAS NECESSARY. What missile was test-fired in Belarus?

Surprise news from the head of state did not end with the history about the Ukrainian adventure's fiasco. The president once again congratulated everyone on the high awards they deserved and told men not to fail women. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that a lot has been done recently to equip the Belarusian army and security and law enforcement agencies for the sake of proper protection of the Motherland.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus had successfully test-fired a Belarusian missile for the air defense system Buk. “We tested a Buk missile for our air defense missile system the day before yesterday. It flew where we wanted it to fly and did everything that was necessary. This is why you are about to get your own terrible weapon against flying vehicles,” the head of state said.

The guided air defense missile 9M318 considerably increases the effective range of the air defense system Buk-MB2 up to 70km and expands the selection of aerial targets it can destroy onto stealthy aerial vehicles and tactical ballistic missiles. As a result of the test unmanned aerial vehicles with turbojet engines were shot down.

SHANGHAI SPIRIT. When does Belarus intend to become a full member of the SCO?

Belarus intends to fulfill the procedures for joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization by the Delhi summit in June. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he met with SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming in Minsk on 9 March.

“Mr. Secretary General, you know our goal. For us to become a full member of the organization, we need to carry out certain legal procedures. We must accede to the decisions taken by the SCO earlier. We have set ourselves an ambitious goal to complete this work this year, before the Delhi summit. It's a fast pace, a serious pace. But if you support us, it will be a good example for others. Moreover, being an observer, we were seriously preparing to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Therefore, we will definitely be able to meet the deadline, before we meet again in Delhi in June,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“You know our goals. All SCO members are aware of our capabilities. I would only like to ask if you have any concerns or questions to Belarus as we are undergoing the process of legal accession to the organization,” the Belarusian leader added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked Zhang Ming and the entire SCO secretariat for the work they are doing with regard to Belarus, which was actually accepted into the family of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at the latest summit in Samarkand. Then it was decided to give a green light to Belarus' accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

In turn, Zhang Ming stressed that it is a great honor and joy for him to come to Belarus. He thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko for the warm welcome and hospitality. “I have good impressions of our meeting that took place in the run-up to the SCO summit [in Samarkand]. We had a very constructive dialogue. Then we discussed the accession of Belarus to the SCO. This was the key topic of our talks,” the secretary general said.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is one of the pillars of a multipolar world and it is important for Belarus to become a full member of the organization. According to Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Aleinik, the current status of Belarus as an SCO observer does not provide an opportunity to fully participate in all the formats of the organization. “Full membership will open the door to this organization more widely for us and let us fully participate in all formats of the organization without exception. We see serious prospects not only for economic cooperation but also for political and diplomatic interaction. This is very important today, because the SCO is one of the main pillars of a multipolar world. It is very important to be involved in multipolarity strengthening from the SCO position. The same is true about the cultural and humanitarian dimension.”

He is convinced that Belarus' accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a full-fledged member will give a new impetus to the development of the organization and cooperation with its members. After all, Belarus always strives to actively express itself at international forums and come up with initiatives.

SOLID PERFORMANCE. How did the Belarusian economy perform in the complicated year of 2022 and what happens now?

Aleksandr Lukashenko hosted a session of the Council of Ministers in the House of Government on 10 March. Results and prospects of Belarus' social and economic development were discussed. “You and I lived through the complicated year of 2022. As you know, we experienced pressure in all areas. Key export industries, 40% of our traditional target markets, transport and logistics corridors, and a system of bank settlements were affected,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

The head of state emphasized that this is not just an intention to paralyze the Belarusian economy, but a shameless, consistent attempt to deprive ordinary people of their livelihoods. “The ultimate goal of these efforts is to cause a social upheaval, which would put at risk the very existence of our state. Like before, I want to assure you: our country will remain on the political world map. And it will only get stronger. All attempts to destroy Belarus economically or politically have failed and will fail,” the Belarusian leader said.

The president recalled that in such a complicated situation, the main task for the prime minister, the government and the entire power vertical was to ensure consistently positive economic performance, a good employment rate and stable social security system and to maintain fairly high living standards.

“Everything revolves around the economy. All security matters, the fight against drones, bandits, terrorists - everything is about the economy. If we are doing well economically, we can handle all other issues. Throughout the year, we held a number of meetings, developed preventive and compensatory measures, evaluated their effectiveness, found windows of opportunities. In this way, we have gained a wealth of experience even in such unprecedented conditions. Therefore, we can say with confidence that we passed the test for economic sustainability,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

During the Council of Ministers session Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke at length about individual things that require close attention. The expert groups coordinated by presidential aides conducted another monitoring of the regional economic situation in January 2023.

The president stated that the situation concerning the accomplishment of previously specified tasks is improving but the government and other parties concerned have yet to do a lot. Genuine restructuring to accommodate the pressure of sanctions has yet to complete and wait-and-see attitudes are intolerable in this regard. Instructions had been given to restore volumes of investment and prioritize the creation of import-substituting manufacturing enterprises that rely on local resources and focus on export. But the relevant work is weak for now.

“What is the expected and maybe already real efficiency of your projects and ideas? In two and a half years we will have to report to the people on the implementation of the five-year program. If we fail, people will not need our excuses about difficult times and draconian sanctions. As I often say, there is no war in Belarus' territory. Therefore, the key goals for the government this year are to increase the number of jobs and people's income,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded that all social commitments should be fulfilled unconditionally. “This is a social contract between the authorities and the people,” he said. “The priority tasks for us are to increase the salaries of public sector employees and the military, to support families with children and pensioners. That was what we actually did in 2022, when Br32 billion was allocated for these purposes, up by Br3 billion over 2021. No matter how difficult it is, the state must find resources for this.”

The Council of Ministers session chaired by the head of state lasted for nearly four hours. After a long opening address of the head of state, who focused on the most topical problems, the conversation touched upon social and economic development prospects. Aleksandr Lukashenko repeatedly stated that economy underpins everything, including state security. “Our every step must be verified and calculated today. Everyone should see the future and act strategically. Then the year 2023 will be another step in our development. If we miss something now, it will be hard to catch up later, it will be even impossible,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Thank god, we lived through last year if we evaluate it taking into account complications and difficulties. I am not going to say whether we did good or bad but we lived through it. It was tolerable,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “We wised up, we understand what way we should follow and we see what needs to be done. This is why I warn all of you, members of the government to think hard about economy this year. You have to secure economy whatever it may cost us. Everyone in their own field and in their own position. Everyone has to understand it and bear it in mind.”

Let's recall what matters the head of state drew attention to.


Prices are the number one issue for people. The kind of price hike that happened last autumn cannot be allowed to happen again. “Use whatever methods you want (monetary, regulatory and administrative ones) to keep the corridor at around 7%. This figure should be a red line for businesses, manufacturers and retailers. Otherwise, the toughest measures will be taken. We cannot allow prices to go out of control. Prices should be fair,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

As for price controls, the government has to work out a policy, set a certain threshold and manufacturers and retailers will set their prices bearing in mind this policy. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “We will not regulate prices for them. There is no planned economy like the Soviet Union's. As economists we understand that we cannot calculate everything. This is why we need some procedure to make them understand. It is necessary to work out normal methods, which will work.”

Civil engineering

It is necessary to pay utmost attention to the construction industry, the president stressed. This also applies to big unfinished projects, in particular those abandoned by international banks, and, of course, the construction of housing, including rental housing, with the possibility of transferring this housing into ownership to certain categories of citizens under certain conditions.

“The architecture minister is responsible for every square meter and for the amount of construction and installation works. Keep it under control. Excuses that you tried but failed will no longer be accepted. All the government's obligations to create infrastructure in the regions that were declared at the Belarusian People's Congress and laid out in five-year plans must be fulfilled,” the president emphasized.


Another important task for the open Belarusian economy is the growth of export. “Objectively, we have not yet been able to fully compensate for all the losses. As I have been briefed, about 80% has been redirected to the markets of friendly countries. So the situation is not dramatic. But! This year we must make up for everything that we lost last year," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The conversation touched upon work on the traditional and large Russian market, the resolution of logistics and shipping problems, interaction within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. China remains the key strategic partner for Belarus among remote countries. China is the fulcrum in the entire vast Asian region for Belarus today.

Belarus should not limit itself to the USA and Europe, which are openly hostile to the country, although these markets should not be disregarded either. “Africa, Latin America and Asia are our trade interests, our new potential,” the Belarusian leader said.

The head of state told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “You need to continuously convey to the business community of every country where Belarusian diplomatic missions are present the position that Belarus is an open, honest and peaceful partner. Serious businessmen are smart and pragmatic unlike many Western politicians. They are ready for mutually beneficial cooperation and are even now looking for opportunities to restore old business ties and create new ones.”


In the current situation Belarus has already learned a powerful lesson of how sanctions-fuelled pressure should be offset. The president once again reminded of his statement that sanctions represent a window of opportunity, particularly for Belarus that can find new markets. Moreover, Belarus has something to offer.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes the current situation represents a genuine reason and a stimulus for scaling up small manufacturing enterprises. “You have to create and assimilate Belarusian products everywhere where import substitution is practical. But with products with improved parameters instead of blind copying. It is necessary to minimize dependence on Western technologies and components within 2-3 years,” he said.

All the best Belarusian brains, scientists, and product engineers should work not simply for the sake of import substitution but for the sake of the country's import independence. Apart from that, the head of state set the task of accelerating the realization of import substitution projects together with Russia as much as possible.

Oil refining, potash and tobacco industries have been hit by the sanctions much more than others. The goal is to restore production volumes and to find alternative markets for these products that are in demand in the world. All in all, the tasks for the manufacturing sector are the following: all non-sanctioned industries should ramp up output by 4-5% and reach the maximum level of capacity utilization. At the same time, those industries that performed well should look for opportunities to do better.


Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “We've received a truly record-high harvest and record-high export earnings. We are working to improve the animal husbandry industry this year. It is necessary to advance our agriculture to new heights. The conditions are favorable: a good harvest yield, the feed availability may not be 100% but it has been increased. Although I am told that half of the country's districts are still unable to stop the decreasing cattle numbers. Gather all the strength into a fist and enforce iron-clad production discipline. Everything here depends only on discipline.”

The president also drew attention to problems with stabilization funds. The State Control Committee reports these problems to the head of state year after year.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also touched upon land amelioration. He noted it is necessary to put more effort into it, reclaim these lands fully, and keep them in a proper condition. After reminding those present about the forthcoming sowing campaign, Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions to carry it out without a hitch. “Food production is a highly profitable business today. Prices are crazy. They have never been that high and may not be that high in the future. This is why you have to think today where we will store things,” he remarked.

Economic emancipation

The head of state highlighted the importance of fast economic decision-making in any sector of the economy. It is vital for enterprises to be able to make their own decisions. “The over-regulated environment in which they work today slows down the whole process. If we want to develop further, we must nurture the economic mobilization environment and simplify all procedures as much as possible: from procurement to product certification,” the president noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the Belarus President Administration to make proposals on the emancipation of regions and enterprises by 1 May. “All decisions should be taken on the ground, by governors. There is no need to take all issues to the top, to the level of the president,” he said.

Profitability and profit growth should become the main criteria for assessing the effectiveness of an executive at any level.


The head of state emphasized that enterprises, especially in the regions, criticize the work of the banking system. There are two main complaints. The first one is insufficient help from the banks in finding the ways to make payments (even consulting support is poor). The second one is the long processing of loan applications. “Often banks do not even bother to inform the applicant about the result,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“I warn you, Pavel Vladimirovich [Kallaur, Chairman of the Board of the National Bank]. Our banking system is like a state within a state. That is what I have said many times. It should not be like that,” the Belarusian leader added.

The president set a very simple and clear task for the banking sector, which is to set up a single payment facilitation center. Secondly, it is necessary to allocate more affordable credit means to the real sector of the economy.

Striving for GDP growth

In 2023 it is necessary not to simply compensate for last year's GDP reduction but transition to GDP growth, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. The head of state noted that a 4% decrease in the gross domestic product is a lot. “If it was 1-1.2%, it would be more or less acceptable from the political point of view and from all sides. 4% means you misunderstood what I told you: you and the National Bank stopped in the end of Q3-Q4 2022. It is necessary to restore everything and do better this year,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “Don't forget (we will pay close attention to it this year): the overall picture may look kind of fine but how many enterprises, how many thousands of people don't work well? The average temperature in the hospital is okay but how many underperformers do we have in the economy? This is why you will not be able to hide behind total, average figures.”

The president also drew attention to the excessive amount of manufactured vehicles, machines, and equipment in warehouses. “Ministers, heads of enterprises are trying to convince me they tend to create stockpiles at the beginning of the year and the rest. This stock in storage depletes floating assets. It is dead money if it is in storage. And then what do you mean by saying stockpiles? We calculate things as against the level of last year and previous years. And it is growth in dynamics. Why is this growth necessary? There can be no justification.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko warned participants of the session: “Results are what matters. You have to understand (and it is the goal of our meeting today) that you will be held responsible for results of this year to the limit. You will not be able to embellish things.”

The president told the government that it is also necessary to bear in mind high performance in previous periods instead of focusing only on losses in 2022.

Social sphere

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave a number of instructions related to the social sector. “I want to draw your attention to the social dimension. You say that we will build healthcare facilities, schools and so on. You know, the situation in healthcare and education is not critical in this regard,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that enough such social facilities have already been built in the country, and today it is necessary to mainly finish the implementation of ongoing construction projects. But the most important thing is to put things in order everywhere. One example is the shortcomings in the work of healthcare institutions which have been identified by the new interdepartmental working group. “There is some serious mess in healthcare. I would like the minister to team up with the group that is now traveling throughout the country,” the Belarusian leader said.

"Enough of these hospitals. We need to put things in order in existing ones. We have started to build facilities in some places (in Grodno or other regions). Let's finish them and let's not start new construction projects. Especially schools,” the president said.

In this regard, the president spoke against building schools in settlements that are smaller than agrotowns. It is much more expedient to organize the transportation of children from small villages to an educational institution in an agrotown that has the necessary educational base.

Another demand of the president is to establish order in hospitals, both in maintenance and personnel. Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned opportunities for employer-sponsored training of specialists and the need to take additional measures to ensure these specialists keep working in the regions.

Summing up results of the discussion on social issues, the president told Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Natalya Kochanova to seriously assess the situation in this area. “You know this area very well. We need to take a serious and objective look at the social sector. Instead of the government evaluating it we need to set up a group of people to do this work,” the Belarusian leader said.

Roads and housing

Naturally, regional development is impossible without maintaining the necessary infrastructure, including roads. “Roads are an extremely important task for us today. Everyone drives a car. Some issues need to be resolved in the housing and utilities sector. A deputy prime minister told me that he has embraced the practice of building concrete roads in every village. Concrete, not asphalt. Because asphalt does not last long. And in general, we agreed to use more cement for it. This task is not being fulfilled,” the head of state said.

Similarly to the approach to schools, Aleksandr Lukashenko demands a well-thought approach, taking into account trends in the development of regions: “We need to make roads where it is necessary in the first place. If there is a village with two people, it will be enough to polish the roads over there. There is no need to lay concrete there. We need to make new concrete roads in agrotowns, district capitals - where it is very necessary and where people will live tomorrow. That is the only way we should act.”

As for housing, Aleksandr Lukashenko reiterated that the state would primarily support military families and families with many children. “We need to build housing without going overboard. We want people to also invest their own money. Don't go overboard. Otherwise, everyone will once again expect only cheap loans for housing construction. No. Those are intended for people, who have no right to do business and make money on the side. Those are primarily military personnel. We've deprived them of everything and told them to go and serve. Then we have to provide them at least with an apartment. This is not big money. This issue with housing for the military will be solved in a year and a half or two years. Good. Then we will be able to demand performance from them.”

Economy and frugality

The head of state urged the rational use of financial resources: “We need to save money. It's not the first year that I've been working, and I have intuition in this regard.”

The president is convinced that self-complacency is not an option only because the country is dealing with the sanctions-related challenges rather well on the whole. “I asked you to ensure economic growth. The government, oblast governors, and the entire power vertical are asked to contribute to the economy,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “We will solve all other issues. So mobilize everything and carry on what we did last year when we were stunned with these sanctions.”

The president pointed out it is necessary to wisely spend money in systems of organizations run by various ministries and government agencies. As an example Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned a large number of advanced training institutions that operate under the aegis of specific government agencies. He believes it would be more prudent to use ordinary higher education institutions for that.

The functions ministries are supposed to perform are often shifted to these institutes. This is how the personnel numbers set for the state machine are inflated by these bodies.

After hearing out arguments for and against, Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an instruction to sort out the problem of such institutes in all branches of the economy by the year end. Trimming is in order, the head of state summarized.

On the whole, Aleksandr Lukashenko said he wanted every issue straightened out. The instruction applies to all government agencies, including defense, security, and law enforcement ones. “We should bring everything to an ideal state,” the president stressed.

REMOTE ARC. Why will Aleksandr Lukashenko fly to Iran?

The Belarus president will be in Iran on an official visit on 12-13 March. Monday is the main day for negotiations. Results of the visit will be summed up this week.

In Tehran the Belarusian head of state is expected to hold talks with Iran President Ebrahim Raisi. During a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand on 16 September 2022, the leaders of the two countries instructed the foreign ministries to take stock of relations and to intensify them.

The talks in Tehran will focus on the development of cooperation across the entire spectrum of bilateral relations with an emphasis on trade and economy. The meeting of the presidents will be held in one-on-one and expanded formats with the participation of members of delegations. The parties will discuss the projects in industry, agriculture, transport and logistics. Special attention will be paid to the situation in the region and in the world as a whole.

After the talks a number of international documents will be signed on the development of relations in areas of mutual interest.

During the official visit to Iran Aleksandr Lukashenko is scheduled to meet with First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, Chairman of the Islamic Consultative Assembly Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei.

One of the central events of the visit will be the signing of a comprehensive roadmap for all-round cooperation between Belarus and Iran.

Subscribe to us
Recent news from Belarus