Authorities probe oppositions mobilisation capacities ahead of elections
Minsk authorities have sanctioned the demonstration and opposition rally on March 25th under the slogan "Together for peace and independence!" dedicated to the Freedom Day (Dzien Voli).
The authorities have decided not to ban the traditional opposition rally, but have readjusted the timeframe – from 3 pm to 6 pm (instead of 6 pm to 9 pm) in order to create additional inconvenience for the organisers and to reduce participation. In addition, by observing the demonstration the Belarusian leadership will assess the opposition’s mobilisation capacity and evaluate the security forces’ readiness to control the situation during mass opposition actions ahead of the presidential election. Depending on participation and the course of the demonstration, the Belarusian authorities will choose more or less rigid scenario for the election campaign in 2015
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.