Barely any opposition members in the electoral commissions
There will be only three members of opposition parties out in 91 regional electoral commissions. Two more members come from the Liberal Democratic Party. As expected, the authorities prevented the members of opposition parties from entering election committees, making space for pro-regime political parties and NGOs. At the same time opposition parties did not show interest in entering regional and local election committees. According to independent and party observers most violations of the election law happen at ballot stations. However, it is clear that the authorities will prevent opposition from entering local election committees as well. Most likely they will allow some opposition members to the election committees in the outlying provincial districts.
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.