Authorities probe Belarusians’ readiness to pay for country’s stability
At a meeting on employment and migration issues in Belarus, President Lukashenko supported the Internal Affairs Ministry’s idea to introduce a “tax on parasitism”.
It is worth noting that the Belarusian officials have repeatedly made controversial proposals that would pick citizens’ pockets, including the “tax on the officially unemployed”. Amid the crisis in Ukraine, the Belarusian leadership is probing Belarusians’ readiness to pay a hefty price for stability in their country. However, in most cases, the authorities have not fully implemented their initiatives aiming to increase the tax burden on the population by introducing taxes that do not cause an open outrage. On the one hand, some initiatives may be blocked by President Lukashenko, in case of serious perturbations and growth of protest activity. On the other hand, in the face of shrinking government revenues, the Belarusian authorities may implement some tax innovations, ones that will be less painful for the ratings.
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.