Minsk prepares to counter information pressure from Kremlin
Regnum news agency Chief Editor and former employee of the Belarusian presidential administration Yuri Baranchik was detained in Moscow following a request from the Investigative Committee. Minsk is becoming more aware of the information component in the Russo-Belarusian relations and drawing red lines as regards the criticism of the Belarusian leadership in the Russian media. The Russian media have stepped up coverage of protests against the decree on ‘social dependants’ in Belarus; yet reports have not conveyed a specific attitude to protests in Belarusian cities. Apparently, Minsk is afraid of increased information pressure from the Kremlin amid lingering tension in the Russo-Belarusian relations and compulsion to sign the EEU customs code, which should come into force on July 1st, 2017.
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.