Lukashenka appoints new head of Minsk City Executive Committee

Alyaksandr Lukashenka, by his November 24 presidential edict, replaced Andrey Shorats with Transport Minister Anatol Sivak in the position of head of the Minsk City Executive Committee.

Mr. Shorats was fired one day after the head of state bashed the city government over a corruption scheme involving the sale of apartments in the capital.

While meeting with Mr. Sivak on Saturday, Mr. Lukashenka said that he planned to hold a meeting with the city’s top officials in three weeks’ time, according to the presidential press office. “I need to have a serious talk with the city executive committee’s officials. I have very many grievances against and very many questions to not only the former leadership headed by Shorats but also the executive committee’s members,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr. Lukashenka said that Mr. Shorats’ replacement with a different official had been discussed for a long time. He said that Mr. Sivak had been chosen for the role because of his efficient performance in the capacity of presidential aide/chief inspector for the city of Minsk in the past.

Mr. Lukashenka described Mr. Sivak as a very responsible official and urged him to prepare the capital city well for the 2019 Second European Games.
Speaking about Mr. Shorats, the head of state said that he would be transferred to a different job. “He is unable pick up the pace as needed, I feel it,” he said.

Mr. Lukashenka announced on Friday that some government officials were to be arrested over the sale of apartments in low-cost houses in Minsk. While the city government had been expected to sell apartments in the houses at market prices or provide them to low-income families and families with three and more children, in reality many apartments were bought by people at a price of just $650 per square meter for the purpose of reselling them at a higher price, he said.

“They managed to sell 54 or 56 apartments,” he said. “And where was the head of the city executive committee? As far as I know that was in the Tsentralny district. And where were the leaders of that district’s administration? I made a decision yesterday: each and every one of them should be taken to a detention center, handcuffed… the money should be returned to the people.”

“We will see tomorrow what we should do with Shorats,” he added.

Mr. Shorats, 45, a former minister of housing and utilities, had served as head of the Minsk city government since November 2014.

His successor, the 56-year-old Sivak, served as presidential aide in 2006-2009 and headed Belarusian Railroads from June 2009 until his appointment as transport minister in July 2012.