Belarusian authorities introduce expert group to compensate for president's self-elimination from domestic policy
The Presidential Administration has introduced an expert group for legal issues. Apparently, the Belarusian leadership has acknowledged the lowered quality of legislation, which led to higher tension in society and poor decisions by the authorities. The fact that such a group has been created under the auspices of the Presidential Administration indicates that the authorities have taken the problem seriously. That said, most unpopular decisions were made by the Presidential Administration, eg the decree on social dependants and the decree on raising the retirement age. Following public pressure and protests, the authorities were forced to revise some of their decisions. For instance, they have suspended the decree on social dependants, reintroduced pension benefits for some social groups and acknowledged that the decree on assistance to families with many children and young families was rescinded prematurely. The authorities are likely to continue to cut social protection and search for new funding sources, however, they would like to minimise risks of mass discontent, especially among loyal population.
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.