Belarus legalizes ad hoc censorship in culture
President Lukashenka has signed the country’s first Code of Culture. The Code envisages some ambiguities, suggesting the possibility of an ad hoc ban on creative activities. It is worth noting that until now there was an unofficial list of artists and cultural figures, who were de facto banned in Belarus. Most often, Belarusian ideologists banned concerts and performances of "opposition" artists by applying informal pressure on the organizers or venue owners. Most likely, officials decided to shun the responsibility and legalise censorship in the cultural sphere.
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.