Authorities respond heavily even to internet activity
Authorities demonstrate their willingness to stop any unauthorized political activity among young people before the elections. Authorities’ response demonstrates a poor set of counteraction tools: instead using soft ‘information’ means, they resort to harsh power measures.
On August 30th, several youth activists, moderators in several groups in the Russian social network VKontakte were detained in Belarus. Unofficial reports say all in all, about 5 persons were detained.
Detention of youth activists at their homes by police means that the authorities are considering forceful physical resistance as the main tool, and discard the softer counter-propaganda information campaign against their opponents. In the summer of 2011 the government used both methods, and achieved its goals, killing off a youth protests’ wave.
It should be anticipated that before the end of the election campaign, the authorities will severely persecute for any political activity. In the media strict censorship will be enacted and speeches of some candidates calling for an elections boycott will not be broadcasted.
Such traditional behavior demonstrates both, the lack of state propaganda specialists and the general stiffness of the governmental system where decisions made by the country’s management do not receive adequate informational and ideological support. The most striking example occurred in July, when the so-called “teddy bears drop” was ignored by the confused state media.
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.