Tension among organisers of Freedom Day celebrations have grown; Tell The Truth has broken the authorities' monopoly on contacts with the Kremlin
Tell The Truth attempted to influence Belarusian-Russian relations, to establish contacts with the Russian ambassador to Belarus and to change Kremlin’s approaches in reaching out to the Belarusian population. Amid the authorities’ refusal to authorize celebrations in the centre of Minsk, tension and mutual accusations have increased among partisan organisers of the 101 anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (Freedom Day celebrations): the Belarusian Popular Front on the one hand and centre-rightists, on the other. Unlike in previous years, the Belarusian National Committee led by Statkevich yet has not urged to hold a political street protest action on March 25th, Freedom Day.
Tell The Truth has focused on the Russo-Belarusian agenda, seeking to boost their popularity among the pro-Russian electorate, discontent with the socio-economic policy of the Belarusian authorities and the state of Russo-Belarusian relations. The visit of the Tell The Truth leadership to the Russian ambassador Babich caused mixed feelings within the Belarusian opposition, due to their cautious attitude towards the Kremlin’s foreign policy.
Until now, most opposition parties avoided contacts with Russian officials and did not seek to increase their influence on the Russo-Belarusian agenda or their visibility in the Russian media popular in Belarus.
MP Kanopatskaya strengthened criticism of the existing power system and the weakness of the parliament in comparison with the presidential power, which resonated with the opposition’s moods. Kanopatskaya is also attempting to recruit supporters among small and medium-sized businesses through promoting their interests in the National Assembly.
Yet there is no unity among the opposition regarding the organizational modalities for Freedom Day celebrations, despite declarations about dialogue and compromise. Supporters of nationalistically-oriented community initiatives, including social media activists, seek to avoid confrontation with the authorities and are ready to hold celebrations, not in the centre of Minsk.
Tell The Truth is likely to continue attempts to build relations with Kremlin officials and develop Moscow’s confidence in alternative political forces in Belarus. In the medium term, parties currently critical of the Kremlin may also revise their attitude towards representatives of the Russian authorities in Belarus, especially if Moscow’s approaches to contacts with the Belarusian civil society and the opposition change.