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.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.