CEC disappointed with ODIHR interim report
The interim report of the election observation mission of the Office for Democratic Standards and Human Rights said that the election campaign in Belarus was almost invisible. Belarusian CEC head Yarmoshyna expressed some frustration with how international observers from the OSCE assessed the campaign progress, and noted that the report “inspires little optimism”. Nevertheless, the authorities expect that the final report will mark “progress” in the election campaign thanks to some political liberalization and suspension of repressions against the opposition. Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities do not intend to make concessions to the requests by domestic and international observers regarding the transparency of vote counting on the election day.
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.