Operation Governor? New envoy may become Putin’s right-hand man in Belarus


Mikhail Babich, phot. ria.ru

Mikhail Babich, who is currently being considered for the post of Russia’s ambassador in Minsk, may also be appointed Special Representative of Vladimir Putin, RBC reports with reference to sources close to the Kremlin.

Babich, 49, is plenipotentiary representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Volga Federal District; earlier he was Chairman of the Chechen government.

According to experts in Kyiv, Babich, who is connected with the Soviet KGB and the Russian FSB, could become the ‘ambassador of war’, that he is a ‘professional saboteur’ and a ‘classic candidate for the Kremlin to work with separatists in Donbas to organize force operations’.

Combining the post of ambassador to a foreign country with the position of a presidential representative is not common in Russian diplomatic practice. For example, two positions have been combined by Viktor Chernomyrdin and Mikhail Zurabov, who were ambassadors to Ukraine and special representatives on the development of trade and economic relations with the country.

The position provides its holder with extra leverage, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry stated. In addition to traditional diplomatic work, a special representative can task the Russian executive authorities and convene meetings of government officials. Since the relations between Moscow and Minsk have been clouded every once and a while, Putin would like to have not only an envoy in Belarus, but a person possessing the broadened mandate, RBC sources stressed.

The candidature of Mikhail Babich has already been approved by the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and the Federation Council’s Committee of International Affairs. The only thing Moscow need is an agrement, which it has already requested from the Belarusian authorities.

***

For the last 12 years, Alexander Surikov has served as Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus. He is not a career diplomat; he was sent to Minsk after being an aide to the presidential envoy in the Siberian Federal District. However, major issues in the Belarusian-Russian relations are usually solved at the presidential level, not that of embassies.

“President Alyaksandr Lukashenka likes to raise even the question of milk-and-butter supplies to the highest possible political level and tackle problems directly cooperating with the President of Russia,” says Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries Vladimir Zharikhin.

According to him, the fact of Ambassador having extended powers will allow Putin to get away from the regular quarrels about dairy products, prices for Russian gas, and other issues.

belsat.eu, following RBC

See also
Comments