Belarusian authorities are changing economic model through strengthening large business patronised by security forces
The Belarusian leadership has enhanced the influence of the power block on the political and economic agenda to demonstrate that it is in control, especially before the Russo-Belarusian military exercise "West-2017". Apparently, the president anticipates economic growth to retain in the coming months due to administrative means and the anti-corruption pressure from the power block, as well as due to an increase in the share of loyal large business in the economy. The authorities continue probing some economic transformations envisaging a smooth transition from the existing large public sector in the economy to enabling loyal private investors.
The power block has retained its positions in the economy, acting as a kind of a referee when interests of competing business groups clash. Businessmen with connections in the power block have the advantage so as the support from the security forces allows them to remove their competitors from the market due to criminal prosecution on economic charges. Such connections are of a particular value in Belarus because of the confusing legislation and justified claims about the independence of the judiciary. For instance, power officials have detained top managers of businessman Averyanov, who had left Belarus, most likely due to the "war" with creditors for his assets. Simultaneously, the president has demonstrated readiness to increase the share of loyal large business in the economy.
In addition, the state is using the anti-corruption pressure on the beneficiaries of the state aid in the most resource-intensive economic sectors. Since the spring, power officials have been focusing on agriculture, which resulted in about a dozen of criminal cases against managers of the agro-industrial complex. The Belarusian leadership aims to keep agricultural managers alert and reduce their expectations of state support for the industry.
In all likelihood, in the near future the power block is likely to shift the focus onto the work of Belarusian exporters and their foreign partners.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.