Staunton, May 12 – The Belarusian government is now studying proposals to introduce a requirement that officials and those applying to be such pass a polygraph examination, a plan ostensibly designed to combat rising corruption but in fact likely to be intended to identify those within the regime who are disloyal to Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Corruption among officials is a real problem, Belarusian prosecutors say; and polygraph examinations are a useful tool to combat it (belta.by/society/view/proverku-na-poligrafe-mogut-vvesti-pri-prieme-na-dolzhnosti-s-povyshennymi-korruptsionnymi-riskami-346864-2019/ and by24.org/2019/05/11/mandatory_polygraph_test_for_belarusian_authoritys/).
But coming in the wake of a case when one of Lukashenka’s key security aides has been removed and arrested because of suspicions that he was disloyal to the Belarusian leader and was even involved in organizing a coup plot against him, this move almost certainly is about more than just corruption: it is about loyalty.
That is certainly how it will be viewed by many officials and many Belarusians more generally; and because that is the case, it will suggest to them that Lukashenka is becoming ever more isolated or at least ever more paranoid – and any such conclusions will have the effect of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Consequently, by adopting a policy designed to defend his regime, the Belarusian leader may in fact hasten its end. At the very least, the spread of the use of polygraph tests will have the effect of angering many who will now be subject to them and that in itself will be corrosive of the authority of the top over them.