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Belarus’ authorities maintain high level of repression against opposition

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April 22, 2016 18:59

Pavel Vinogradov, an activist from Zmena youth organisation was arrested ahead of the CIS and EEU Summit.

Regardless of the authorities’ desire to defrost relations with the EU and the US, the Belarusian security forces have not changed their repressive means towards the opposition -  especially the youth activists-  by using the same tactics that they usually employ before major international events. Meanwhile, seven prisoners, whom human rights activists and the opposition consider as political prisoners, are still behind bars. Ahead of the presidential campaign, the authorities are most likely to maintain a high level of repressions against the opposition in order to eliminate threats from the most radical opposition activists. 

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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.

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