Belarusian government raised utility tariffs for population to acceptable level
The Belarusian president has approved the maximum allowable tariffs (rates) in 2016 for 14 types of utility services. As expected, the authorities have only slightly reduced utility and communal services tariffs. However, in order to relieve tension in society, the authorities have extended the deadline for making the utility services payments without incurring penalties and interest. The Belarusian leadership has long worked out and used an algorithm enabling to introduce unpopular measures and reduce social protection without creating tension in society. Initially, they introduce or declare a significant increase in taxes or payments for services provided by the state, and then they slightly reduce them. Such a gradual reduction of social guarantees is unlikely to create social tension in society, and the state will readjust it, depending on the people’s reaction.
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.