Belarusian authorities are loyal to opposition activity in national-cultural sphere as long as it excludes protest activity
Last week, the opposition was collecting signatures in the Independence Square in Minsk to recognise the white-red-white flag as a historical and cultural value. The authorities seem ready to allow the opposition activity in the national and cultural spheres, so as amid falling incomes and rising unemployment the population shows interest in it. The security forces have set informal rules for opposition activists in organising unauthorized activities. Often they do not detain or prosecute organisers, unless they are too active or their activity involves the top leadership of the state. Should the opposition organise protest actions to promote socio-economic issues, the authorities are likely to take action that is more drastic.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.