August 18, 2018 / 12:00 PM / 4 months ago

Belarus' Lukashenko dismisses top ministers, names new PM

FILE PHOTO: Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko delivers a speech during the Minsk Dialogue Forum "Eastern Europe: In Search of Security for All" in Minsk, Belarus May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko/File Photo

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed the country’s prime minister and other top ministers, the presidential press service said on Saturday, in the biggest government reshuffle since 2014.

The shake-up comes days after Lukashenko, who has run Belarus along Soviet-style command lines since 1994, criticised government leaders for their ineffectiveness.

Lukashenko named Sergei Rumas, the head of the country’s Development Bank, as new prime minister, the presidential press service said in a statement. Rumas replaces Andrei Kobyakov, who had served as Belarus’ prime minister since 2014.

Lukashenko also named four new deputy prime ministers, as well as new ministers of the economy, communications and industry, among other posts.

The 63-year-old leader has heeded some calls from the West to show more leniency towards political opposition, but opponents say their freedom to operate remains severely limited.

Reporting by Andrey Makhovsky; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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