Authorities are attempting to redirect popular discontent on private sector
President Lukashenka and the KGB press service commented on the high-profile arrest of businessman and blogger Alexander Knyrovich. The authorities are attempting to shift the responsibility for people’s falling living standards and growing housing and utility costs on private businesses. In addition, amid dwindling public resources, security officials are attempting to strengthen their position by engaging in the fight against business groups for funds redistribution. Some independent observers have noted the political nature of the criminal prosecution of the businessman, who was known for unnecessary publicity, liberal views and criticism of the government's economic policy. Apparently, amid growing tension in society and discontent with the conservation of the economic model by some public officials and businessmen, the president is reviewing the informal agreement with major businessmen about non-interference in politics.
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.