Belarusian civic initiatives boost activity in summer
"Tell the Truth" leaders, Andrei Dmitriev and Tatyana Korotkevich have continued to meet with officials. The Belarusian authorities have introduced some new unpopular initiatives, such as income tax on charity for Jews-survivors of the Holocaust and demolition of the first post-war district of Osmolovka and manor development in other districts of Minsk. Civic society and the opposition have brought these cases to the attention of the independent media in order to boost people’s response to the authorities’ actions and mobilise the population to sign petitions and to participate in public hearings. When the local election campaign kicks off, the authorities are likely to become more sensitive to demands of society and would revise their decisions should there be enough public pressure.
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.