Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was forced to reshuffle the nation's government in August due to the fact that some senior officials “drank a lot”, which is “unacceptable,” he said on August 31.
"I want to publicly say that heavy drinking is unacceptable," Lukashenko's media office quoted him as saying. "I was ashamed to say that many [government] officials whom I have recently dismissed drank a lot."
The president added that the resent reshuffle "is not the end". "We will come back to many government officials who do not show results or do now work in accordance with my principles," Lukashenko underlined.
The statement followed the change of the nation's prime minister, four deputies and a number of ministers on August 18 in a move, which Lukashenko explained by attempts of the government to implement unpopular economic reforms, including reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"You should know when to stop [to drink]," Lukashenka added, appealing to a new cabinet. "You should know with whom, where and how much to drink. If you lose this feeling, you are no longer an official. This is the reason why we will have to say goodbye to certain people soon."
According to the Belarusian authoritarian president, he said these things "mainly to the wives of the drunkards who will soon lose their jobs".
In August, Lukashenko appointed Sergei Rumas, head of the nation's state development agency, the Development Bank of Belarus, a new premier instead of Andrei Kobiakov.
Unveiling the appointment, the president slammed the former government for attempts to re-start stalled privatisation of state-owned companies. "Will they throw half of the employees out on the street, which is proposed by some investors who come to me and say that they don’t need that many workers? Such privatisation will not be allowed in Belarus, we don’t need such privatisation," Lukashenko's media ofice quoted him as saying.
The re-start of privatisation was one of the key demands from the IMF for a new loan programme for Minsk, which failed at the final stage due to Lukashenko's refusal to greenlight privatisation of state-owned companies and a sharp hike in utility tariffs.
Lukashenko also branded attempts to hike utility tariffs as "brainless" policy. The president also said that his order to boost average monthly pay to BYN1,000 ($500) "had caused a panic" among the government's officials. According to Lukashenko, the former cabinet was warning that a hike would cause a collapse of the national currency, as well as "the collapse of the country".