Trade Ministry is set to close shops if prices go up
From December 2014 to August 2015 the Trade Ministry suspended activities of 35 retailers for violating pricing regulations. Amid crippling devaluation and the estimated price hikes on imported products, the authorities are likely to step-up control measures over compliance with the wholesale and retail trade legislation. In addition, the authorities are likely to interfere directly with pricing policies at enterprises. Trade suppliers are likely to accumulate losses, assortment of imported products is likely to reduce and some retailers might suspend activity. In the short-term, the situation of January-February 2015 when prices where tightly regulated leading to a sharp deterioration of assortment and shortages, is likely to repeat.
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.