Belarusian authorities will not allow protest activity growth among public sector employees
An increasing number of large state-owned enterprises in Minsk and regions require their workers to take unpaid leave, cut their working hours or trim their salaries. Nevertheless, the authorities manage to keep the situation under control and prevent mass layoffs in the public sector. Meanwhile, workers’ protest activity remains low and is limited to individual and collective complaints to the state authorities. The authorities monitor the situation and promptly respond to incidents when workers show dissatisfaction with salary payments. If the crisis in public sector deepens, the state will use additional mechanisms to maintain high employment levels in order to restrict protest activity in the year of presidential elections.
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.