Belarusian authorities count on different approaches in recognising activists as political prisoners by EU and Belarusian human rights defenders
Belarusian human rights defenders have recognized Vyacheslav Kosinerov, an ex-figurant in the ‘graffiti case’ as a political prisoner. The authorities retain tension in the Belarusian protest movement due to criminal prosecution on mass riot charges, searches at Belsat offices and pressure on independent media journalists. Minsk attempts to focus attention on the force component in the mass riots case and anarchists’ actions, counting on discrepancies between the European structures’ and Belarusian human rights defenders’ criteria for recognizing persecuted activists as political prisoners. That said, the likelihood of criminal charges being dropped or non-guilty verdicts being pronounced in the Belarusian law enforcement and judiciary systems is low, but if pressure from European institutions enhances, the authorities could somewhat relax the accusations.
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.