Posted: 21.11.2023 09:51:00

Safety, quality and import substitution. What else does the President require from officials?

Military and economic security — these issues were the focus of attention of the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, during a working trip to Gomel

The Head of State first got acquainted with the work of the 1868th artillery ordnance depot. Various types of weapons and military equipment are stored and repaired on the territory of a military facility.
The President was informed about the purpose of the artillery ordnance depot and its structure. The depot chief Yevgeny Maslyukov said that the weapon depot was established in 1941 and was heavily involved in World War Two. It has been located in Gomel since 1945. The territory has a section dedicated to storing small arms, shops to repair weapons and hardware, and outdoor sites for weapon storage. 
Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin told the President that all the small arms in storage of the Belarusian army are properly inventoried and are in good order. For instance, among other things an assault rifle was demonstrated to Aleksandr Lukashenko. The President wondered whether it was a new one or whether it had been refurbished. The depot chief noted that it is difficult to guess from how the weapon looks because used assault rifles get refurbished to mint condition at the artillery ordnance depot, and they are impossible to tell apart visually.
Then the Head of State examined the shop where artillery weapon systems get repaired. For instance, the shop fixes Gvozdika and Akatsiya self-propelled howitzers as well as the Giatsint cannon and Vasilek automatic mortars.

“We definitely have to take care of import substitution. Importing these things costs too much. Put pressure on the manufacturing sector!” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
After that, the President went on a tour of the shops that repair military optics and small arms.
Special emphasis is placed on the storage conditions of weapons:
“Do we have the same security for nuclear weapons?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.
“Even better? Incredible...”
After the tour of the artillery ordnance depot Aleksandr Lukashenko praised the army for properly storing weapons and military hardware.
“It is a good facility. Sensible. It is already not the future but the present. It is the way we’ve been following while improving, modernising, and preserving our weapons. Today I made sure that our military are great people. We pay a huge amount of attention to keeping our military fed, clothed, well-rested and training in good barracks. As a military man I can say that it is nothing if you don’t have weapons and ammunition,” the Head of State said.
Upon completion of his visit to the artillery ordnance depot in Gomel, the President was presented with a grenade launcher.
The Gomel-based industrial group Kristall, the managing company of the holding company Kristall was the next item on Aleksandr Lukashenko’s itinerary.

Kristall Director General Ruslan Sorokovoi reported to the Head of State on the progress made as part of the effort to modernise diamond processing production and measures being taken to improve the efficiency of the enterprise. The Gomel jewellery plant Kristall was established in 1972 as one of the seven Kristall plants in the Soviet Union. Today only two Kristall enterprises continue operating in Belarus’ Gomel and Russia’s Smolensk.
“In 1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union we faced the problem of keeping the manufacturing division busy. The fact that diamond processing still exists somewhere outside India (today more than 90 percent of all the diamond processing happens in India), including Belarus, is solely thanks to the decisions taken at your level. By preserving diamond processing, we managed to develop jewellery production in the country, which enables us to make products with a higher profit margin. Today diamond processing accounts for 20 percent of our production, jewellery accounts for 80 percent,” Ruslan Sorokovoi said.
Both the enterprise and the holding company hit all performance targets, the director general said. In his words, the plant buys raw materials mainly in Russia. The plant is also starting to co-operate with Zimbabwe as well.
A new line of business for Kristall is the production of minted gold bars for the Finance Ministry. The ministry sells them to economic entities, banks and other credit and financial organisations of Belarus. This is a serious contribution to import substitution, because previously the bars were supplied to Belarus from Western European countries.
The President instructed to take these issues under special control, 
“Can we do everything for the National Bank? Then we should import nothing from Switzerland starting next year. And this year as well.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko got familiar with the stages of jewellery production and diamond processing at the plant.
While on a tour of the jewellery plant, the President also talked to Kristall workers. “I’ve been planning to come here for a long time. This is not because you make such beautiful things... I think the most beautiful thing in the world is the woman. Moreover, a woman looks even prettier if she wears diamonds, gold and so on (I don’t think so personally, but women themselves do). I am calm about such things. I have never had them. For me this is a raw material and a finished product. Yet, I am happy if these products can help our women look even prettier,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted during a conversation with the staff.
According to the President, in the past he would receive many proposals to privatise the enterprise. 
“I flatly refused. This is a state-run enterprise and will remain so. At least as long as I am the President. Our people have learned to make this beauty, and it is not for sale. It was not about diamonds and gold for me. It was about losing competencies, specialists, which would be a catastrophe. These are really world-class specialists,” the Head of State said.
Communicating with the staff, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus has withstood the sanctions pressure.
The President also recalled the task of import substitution and improving the quality of all products produced in Belarus, “We will push for it. Next year, we will force everyone to do quality work.”
At the same time, Aleksandr Lukashenko supported the idea of establishing a single state quality mark in Belarus. This proposal was put forward by one of the workers of the industrial group Kristal.
“We will declare next year the Year of Quality. I have already spoken about this. We produce a lot. We make high-quality products. However, we should take the quality to a new level in order to be competitive. Because we have an open economy. We need to improve the quality further in order to stay competitive,” the President stated.
The Head of State mentioned that, for instance, not only Germany makes top quality products. China is also making substantial progress in this direction. Belarus is currently working with China on launching its own car production in the country, and Aleksandr Lukashenko intends to bring up this topic again during his next meeting with the President of the People’s Republic of China. The Head of State suggested using the Soviet quality mark as the basis for the modern Belarusian one, as he liked the look of the Soviet mark. He gave corresponding instructions to the government.
The USSR State Quality Mark was used to mark serial products, which were made by enterprises of the Soviet Union for civilian use and met high quality standards (consumer goods and engineering products). The five edges of the mark were associated with a five-pointed star and with quality elements: reliability, affordability, safety, aesthetics, and innovation.
Belarus pays close attention to penetrating new markets. For instance, to co-operation with countries on the African continent. Good relations have been established with Zimbabwe. A return visit of the Head of State to Equatorial Guinea is expected.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasised great prospects for advancing co-operation with these countries and the region as a whole. It is also important for the operation of enterprises like the industrial group Kristall. There are large deposits of precious metals and diamonds in Africa. Nevertheless, interaction proceeds in agriculture, for example. Zimbabwe has received a good harvest thanks to Belarusian machines and vehicles. 
After the tour of the industrial group Kristal the President was gifted Belarus’ map that had been made using vermeil and natural diamonds. Diamonds of different sizes were used to designate Minsk, oblast capitals and district capitals on the map. The Head of State also received a pen made of bog oak that is about 4,050 years old. The oak was caught in the Sozh River near the village of Karpovka, Loyev District.

Based on materials of and
Photos by belta