Minsk continues the anti-Polish media campaign
The authorities have started the response campaign to discredit the opposition forces, which is addressed to Belarusian voters in the first place. Simultaneously, the Minsk once again shows that it is not interested in resuming the dialogue with the West through Poland.
According to experts, Poland is a traditional \\\"scarecrow\\\" which the Belarusian propaganda uses before the elections for the heating of public opinion and discredit of the opposition parties and movements. Anti-Polish campaigns are above all conducted in Belarus, to mobilize public before the elections, and only as a last resort because of real fears of the authorities to the opposition.
Therefore, half of the story was devoted to the topic of speculative Schengen visas, which supposedly anyone can obtain for a fee to employees of the Belarusian-Polish educational programs.
In addition, Minsk is particularly interested in how to keep pressure on Warsaw today, which is the most consistent and exacting critic of the Belarusian authorities to fulfill conditions of the resumption of dialogue (the release and rehabilitation of prisoners, democratic presidential elections). The Belarusian authorities are interested in softening or revising these terms and, therefore, deliberately keep the relationship with Poland in a stalemate since the summer of 2011. Thus Minsk is trying to show Brussels the futility of the hard approach to Belarus.
Featured footages also aimed at discrediting a number of opposition movements, which are just beginning to campaign for the parliamentary elections, and some politicians (the movement \\\"For Freedom\\\" and \\\"Tell the Truth\\\", and also A. Mikhalevich, A. Milinkevich and V. Neklyaev). The documents, featured in the film, have already been \\\"leaked\\\" to the Polish media through unnamed sources in the spring of 2011. Their appearance in the Belarusian television in prime time on Sunday and 2 days after the visit to Minsk of the EU European External Action Service representative G.Wiegand should be seen as an indication that the Belarusian authorities do not see the title opposition as the probable mediators in the resumption of dialogue, proposed by Wiegand .
The delay of the issue with the pardon of former presidential candidate Alexander Sannikov and his trustee D. Bondarenko, who had previously written clemency applications, said that Minsk holds a pause deliberately and, contrary to the conditions imposed, expects the first step from the West. It could be a (partial) lifting of sanctions, or a positive signal from the mission of the IMF about a possible loan. It is likely that the issue will be resolved with the release of political prisoners in the coming weeks during the IMF mission in Minsk on February 22 - March 6, either before or after the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers Council on 27 February, where also sanctions against Belarusian officials will be discussed. I imagine they realize there that this is a dead end, but it is needed to stand firm even in the dead end. So, they follow their own way.
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.