Belarus’ government withdraws anti-corruption campaign from limelight
While visiting a flax plant in the Orsha district, President Lukashenko talked about the failure to meet the modernisation deadlines in the industry and demanded a revival of the Belarusian flax industry.
In mid-August, the new anti-corruption draft law was brought up for public discussion. Since then, the authorities have reduced the anti-corruption rhetoric and public coverage of the issue in the state media. In addition, there was less criticism of state managers for failures to implement state programmes. The authorities are not interested in society participating actively in the anti-corruption campaign, as its main aim is to boost President Lukashenko’s support ratings ahead of elections 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.