Visit to Belarus’ State Forensics Committee

  • 8
In Belarus everyone can count on total objectivity and independence of government agencies. The statement was made by Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko as he visited the State Forensics Committee on 19 December.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes that the decision to set up the State Forensics Committee had been the right one. “Objectivity and independence of processes have reached world levels. Honesty and objectivity in Belarus are higher than those in any other country, I guarantee it. And I am closely monitoring the situation,” the President stressed.

The head of state pointed out that sound competition had been brought about by making the investigation branch independent. “You detect a crime, collect the evidence, carry out a preliminary investigation and transfer the case to the investigator if necessary. The investigator has to evaluate whether you have done this work objectively and without prejudice. If you failed, you will have to redo the work. So, in addition to objectivity the process now involves independence,” the President said.

“Nobody, not even our opposition, the so-called fifth column can reproach me that there is telephone justice in Belarus, that people can be sentenced upon one phone call. Nobody is allowed to do that! I will be informed about it at once if it happens. And god may have mercy on you then,” the head of state noted. He remarked that he interferes with the process only for the sake of tougher punishment for scoundrels.

“This is why we have created a good system,” the head of state concluded. “I am very glad that the decision made in Belarus back then has been implemented. Our neighbors have tried to do it but have returned to where they were or have failed to do something we haven’t. We have been consistently implementing this policy since the very start. Why? Because there are no oligarchical clans or other ones to handle these affairs in a backdoor manner. This is why we have managed to do it”.

The President was made familiar with the physical infrastructure and working conditions of the State Forensics Committee. The head of state went on a tour of the labs that examine narcotic substances, paints, varnishes and polymers, oil products, fuels and lubricants.

The President remarked that the speed and quality of tests had been significantly improved thanks to the concentration of resources and their redistribution. The expansion of the sphere of paid services has resulted in additional funds that can be used to modernize forensic equipment and buy new, modern instruments.

Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined the important role that the State Forensics Committee plays in fighting the illegal circulation of drugs. The personnel are supposed to put efforts into prevention, to detect and initiate the registration of new kinds of drugs.

“Everyone blames us for some dictatorship. Yes, we practice the rigid dictatorship of truth,” the President said. “You have become a self-sufficient agency just like the Investigation Committee. At present everyone plays their own role in the investigation process. It is what human rights are all about in this complicated process today. Every person in the country can count on full objectivity and independence of government agencies,” the head of state noted.

“Unlike other countries, Belarus will not retreat because we don’t try to serve someone’s mercenary interests, corporate or clan interests. We will act only for the sake of our nation, the state on the basis of honesty, truth and justice,” the President stressed.

Addressing Chairman of the State Forensics Committee Andrei Shved, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the Committee should focus on saving resources while the resources it saves will be left at the disposal of the Committee and will be spent on higher salaries for the personnel. “Don’t wait for extra funds from the state budget, particularly in the forthcoming year,” the head of state noted.

“We will start implementing austerity measures from the beginning of 2015. We are a frugal nation. Yet our financial discipline is sometimes poor,” the President said.

“Austerity is the number one priority for the next year. This pertains to everyone,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he had already instructed all government agencies to halve supplies and utilities. He emphasized that this measure does not extend to salaries. “We have reached the point when everyone has personal cars. Gasoline is not cheap these days. Everyone wants to have a decent salary and cheap housing loans, at the minimum. This is right. Therefore, we will not cut down on salaries and housing loans. However, we will try to save everywhere we can,” the head of state said.

“No matter how much money we will have, we will save as much as possible. Why? Let’s put an end to this havoc with foreign currencies. We need to realize one thing: if we want stability on the foreign exchange market, everyone, from individuals to legal entities, should contribute at least a penny to the state budget. This is the key to stability. In the situation when some earn foreign currency for the country, while others just come to exchange offices to buy, spend and stash money, then the country will tumble,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko presented the banner of the State Forensics Committee and a merit certificate of the Belarus President to the chairman of the committee.

The same day the head of state also answered the questions of reporters.

Commenting on the situation on the foreign currency market, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus has enough reserves to get through the current period calmly.

“Do not worry: whatever happens in the country, even if we face the worst scenario, we will manage to stabilize the situation in six months thanks to the system which we have created in Belarus, namely the clear-cut system of governance and strict requirements,” the head of state said. Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that a lot of decisions have been made recently, including on the enhancement of the responsibility of executives and workers, on pricing control and other matters.

“If the situation begins to stagger, we will deploy all these tools to stabilize it,” the President noted. “In any case, we will pull through any situation because we are not like we were 10 or 20 years ago.”

“A rush in the country is always caused under the influence of external factors and if someone inside or outside the country would want to destabilize the situation, he will fail,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Therefore, there is no need to worry too much. Just keep getting ready for the New Year and Christmas celebrations,” the President added.

“I have already said that the senior executives of the National Bank, the government and I are not eager to follow Russia and Ukraine. We do not want to copy what is happening in the neighboring countries,” the head of state remarked. “Although we do not have such huge reserves as, for instance, Russia has, we are doing our best to withstand the difficulties.”

“I said for a reason that this situation is very serious. Everything depends on our people. I have once told our people: do not rush to currency exchange offices to buy foreign currency because it will carry consequences,” the President said.

“Of course, people are no fools; they understand that Russia is dealing with difficulties. You are aware of the situation in Ukraine. These are our major markets where we exported our products there and got foreign currency proceeds. Of course, due to such collapses we get less foreign currency than we earned before. People want to have a safety cushion. They do not understand or do not want to understand that this increase in the demand for foreign currency will backfire on us,” the head of state noted.

“They can ask me what for we need this demand and supply and suggest using administrative tools to regulate the situation. It can be done by administrative methods. Nevertheless, people want freedom. They want to buy and sell foreign currency if they want or need to,” the Belarusian leader continued.

In his words, if the foreign currency exchange process is free, there must be freedom in other sectors. “We cannot control certain areas and give absolute freedom to other sectors. We cannot allow buying and selling foreign currency freely and impose restrictions in other fields,” the President said. “But there can be fluctuations. The National Bank should trade reserves to level out these fluctuations. We have been doing it so far. But if people decided to convert part of their savings into foreign currency and raise the demand for it, the foreign currency will become more expensive,” the head of state remarked.

“At present our main objective is to prevent collapses and not to follow Russia’s scenario because we do not know what the exchange rate will be. But we know that we are incurring huge losses due to the devaluation of the Russian ruble because Russia is our major market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. He added that Russia accounts for 42% of the Belarusian export, Ukraine accounts for 15-20%.

“Obviously, the situation is not easy. And by saying to people that we do not want dramatic devaluation of the national currency, we would like to get through this period calmly. Now we have enough reserves for it,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that at the government conference held on 18 December he instructed the National Bank and the government to come up with a number of measures to preserve the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves.

“Yesterday I gave instructions to work out a number of relaxed measures that we could take in order not to burn our reserves too much,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“I think that in the near future the National Bank and the government will keep the population and economic operators informed about the measures they are taking,” he added.

The President remarked that the National Bank has levers to pull and they are well-known. “We will act depending on the circumstances,” he stressed. “If Belarusians rush to buy foreign currency, then the demand for foreign currency will go higher and the prices will go up. Once Belarusians stop doing that or start selling foreign currency instead of buying, then the exchange rate will drop”. All the instruments are well-known, he added.

Speaking about the situation in Ukraine, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that on 21 December he will meets with President of Ukraine Piotr Poroshenko.

"Most likely we will meet on Sunday. The Ukrainian President called me yesterday and asked for a meeting to talk over some issues. I am all for it because we have a lot to talk about in this situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Based on that conversation, I understood that the Ukrainian leadership, including the President of Ukraine, is absolutely not against the new round of talks in Minsk,” the Belarusian leader noted. "As he said, he is now waiting for the response from the leaders of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics. If the agreements are reached, they will be able to get together in Minsk to continue the dialogue and see what direction they will move,” the Belarusian President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that the most important thing is dialogue. “However difficult it can be, there is no other way for the President of Ukraine and the heads of Donetsk and Lugansk but to sit down at the negotiating table and engage in a dialogue. They should talk. Peace will eventually come to the country. But escalation and killing of innocent people should be stopped,” the President of Belarus said.

The President was asked to comment on the situation with restrictions on the import of Belarusian foodstuffs to Russia.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that it is pure politics.

“Does it make any sense to ban the import of these products to the domestic market while trying to curb the price rise for these products? The more products you have, the lower the prices will be. Why restrictions then?” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President reminded that representatives of Russian veterinary and sanitary services were invited to inspect Belarusian enterprises. “Why do they complain? They took a sample at some enterprise and said that it was not good. First, the product can be tested in the process of production and during shipment. Experts can test our products and make claims if they have any. But they did not. They can also test any products that will be shipped to Russia and submit claims. It is unclear if they conducted tests or not. We must eliminate such practices,” the Belarusian leader said.

He added that he knows the position of Russian specialists. They say that Belarusian products meet the world’s highest standards, the President noted. “I can prove it. For instance, Dankvert’s specialists who came here were impressed and said that they cannot complain. They concluded that there were some loose ends just like at other enterprises. The next day virtually all the enterprises got access to the Russian market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to the President, one of the factors is lobbying. "Dishonest lobbying by individual bodies. Those who process meat and milk want to make a lot of money, especially in the run-up to the New Year celebrations,” the Belarusian leader said.

"Plus politics. I am absolutely convinced that this is a political game. They have imposed the counter-sanctions, and the Belarusians did not join them. But we never promised we would. We are not that rich. Today we lost around one billion dollars because of the collapse of the Russian ruble during this short period of time. If we would not have lost this money, it would have been much easier for us today,” the President noted.

"If we introduce sanctions following Russia, we will lose everything. And another thing: nobody talked to us asking, in a friendly manner, to join the sanctions and compensate in case we lose anything. There was no such a conversation. But they did impose these restrictions unilaterally, harming themselves and us," the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that in this regard he should ask Russian President Vladimir Putin a direct question: what the Russian leadership wants from Belarus, why these steps are being taken, what is behind these steps? What I said is my suppositions, and I think I am right about them. But maybe the President and the Prime Minister of Russia have some other hidden causes. I am an open person and I prefer discussing things straight from the shoulder. We have the same mentality, we are brothers, why hide anything from each other! If you need to, then say it openly. I always do. If I have any troubles I openly say: listen, we need some support. This is the policy I understand - fair, open, not dirty,” the head of state noted. He added that he wants to talk with the Presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan in this manner. "I think we will have a very serious discussion on this matter. We must not ruin the union to which we have dedicated a lot of years. The union was hard won for the three of us. It begins to function on 1 January and it would be a shame for us if we ruin it with our own hands. There are a lot of opponents, even judging by these restrictions, especially in Russia. Let us hope for the best,” the President stressed.