Belarusian government tries to appease citizens unhappy with housing privatisation
A presidential decree has been adopted that aims to address the most acute problems with residential housing privatisation, which should be completed by July 1st, 2016. As of January 1st, 2014, 360, 000 apartments still needed to be privatised in Belarus (8.8% of all apartments subject to privatisation). Throughout 2014, about 90% of the population have executed their right to privatisation. However, privatisation of apartments built in the Soviet era is still an issue which strongly resonates in Belarusian society and has a negative effect on the Belarusian authorities’ ratings. People who still live in non-privatised public apartments are those who are largely dependent on state support. With the decree, the government attempted to relieve the tension in this society group in view of the upcoming 2015 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.