Loss-making private breweries threatened with nationalisation
On April 10th, at a meeting dedicated to the brewing industry development, President Lukashenko threatened to nationalise one of the Heineken plants. Following the threat to the brewery in Bobruisk, which is among the largest taxpayers in the Mogilev region, Belarus should anticipate further reduction in investment into Belarusian enterprises by foreign companies, increased pressure on private business, and more direct and indirect payments to the budget to be squeezed from various profitable enterprises. Meanwhile, revising the excise policy, which is the main reason why the situation in the brewery industry has deteriorated, (the excise tax on beer rose tenfold in the past 2.5 years) is not envisaged.
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.