Authorities intensify repression to prevent ‘revolutionary’ moods from spreading across Belarus
BATE Borisov football fans who had held a rally in support of the Ukrainian Maidan were detained and sentenced to five days in jail for unauthorised picketing.
Events in Ukraine have prompted discussions in Belarusian society about possible ways to democratise Belarus and have strengthened positions of the ‘revolutionary’ scenario supporters. Regardless of the shrinking ‘social’ benefits for the population, the vast majority of Belarusians is not ready to repeat the Maidan scenario in Belarus. Nevertheless, the authorities intensify preventive measures to reduce civil activity.
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.