Regime-sanctioned oligarchs

Big business in Belarus


No oligarchic system, similar to those in Ukraine or Russia, developed in Belarus after 1991, but the formation of a group of prominent regime-linked businessmen has accelerated in recent years. They owe their influence to informal concessions from the regime to do business in selected sectors of the economy. They often do not take over state property but act as intermediaries, earning a hefty commission for doing so. They also operate in the criminal sphere, primarily involving the large-scale smuggling of goods into Russia and the European Union. This article aims to show the evolution and specifics of big business in Belarus. The growing capital potential of big Belarusian businessmen, estimated at a dozen or so, and their rising influence on the economic decisions made by the authorities while maintaining total political loyalty, make it justified to call at least some of them oligarchs. The system emerging in Belarus bears certain similarities to some post-Soviet oligarchic systems while having its own distinctive features. The accumulated capital and contacts give at least some of the emerging Belarusian oligarchs a good starting position for taking a front seat in a possible future political transformation, should the conditions arise for that to begin.

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Opublikowane : 2021-12-08

Konończuk, W. (2021). Regime-sanctioned oligarchs. Sprawy Międzynarodowe, 74(2), 133-156.

Wojciech Konończuk
Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich im. Marka Karpia  Polska