Lukashenko to restrict Russian presence in Belarus’ economy
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed statements on Belarus’ unwillingness to implement integration projects with Russia as nonsense.
He made this statement at a meeting with Yaroslavl Oblast Governor Sergei Yastrebov on January 30th. The tension between official Minsk and the Kremlin over the privatisation of Belarusian state property is growing. Privatisation is a condition for signing off a six-month Russian-Belarusian oil balance. The president is wary of the increased Russian presence in Belarus’ economy ahead of the presidential campaign. Lukashenko wants to reduce pressure from the Kremlin by using his long-standing contacts and connections in the Russian regions. In the coming year, Belarus’ government will do its utmost to restrict Russian business from penetrating the Belarusian economy, as it fears that the Kremlin might interfere with the 2015 presidential election.
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.