Following last week’s election of Agrarian party leader Semyon Sharetsky as speaker, the Belarusian parliament yesterday elected three deputy chairmen of parliament. They are Vasil Navikou, leader of the parliament’s largest, Communist party faction; Yury Malumou, director of personnel policies in the administration of president Lukashenko; and Henadz Karpenka, a well-known industrialist active in the United Civic party. (14) The choices fairly reflect the political forces in the new parliament. Malumou, representing a strong bloc of Lukashenko supporters, is a self-described "president’s man" who can be counted on to defend Lukashenko’s interests in the legislature. Karpenka is the most reform-minded of the group, although he comes with a mixed record. He is best known for a complex experiment in market reform that he carried out as mayor of Maladechna. The experiment, which lasted from 1991 to 1994, ended largely in failure.
Given its composition, the parliament is likely to proceed very cautiously on reforms while attempting to the extent possible to maintain the social safety net inherited from Soviet times. At a press conference last week, Sharetsky said in virtually the same breath that he favors building "democratic socialism" and a "free enterprise economy." (15) Lukashenko for his part has alternately called for the introduction of "market socialism" and the "socialist market." Yet even the president has begun abolishing entitlements of various social groups on the grounds that the state can no longer afford them.
Azerbaijani, Armenian Presidents to Discuss Karabakh Settlement.