Belarusian law enforcement protects without owning
In Belarus, the security forces do not benefit from a particular business. Their task is to ensure the state's economic interests, namely to preserve the immutability of the political regime in the country. If Belarusian security forces or their senior officers obtained economic influence in addition to power influence, the existing government system in Belarus would be under a threat.
It is common in the post-Soviet space for security forces to have a share of control over the economy. Senior security officers are often business owners. As a rule, this leads to the abuse of power and amalgamation of economic and security structures.
During his rule, Lukashenka consistently destroyed all power centres, which could challenge his absolute authority. A merger between business and the law enforcement would be a particular threat. In the early 1990s, when this process only started and was semi-criminal, the Belarusian authorities nipped a potential alliance between "the sword and the purse" within the framework of the criminal law.
To date, the main functions of the law enforcement in the Belarusian economy include:
- ensuring the national security (enforcing secrecy, mobilisation readiness, overall security of enterprises)
- ensuring the rule of law in the economy
- controlling finances and assets of state enterprises
- mobilising financial resources for the state in addition to existing taxes and duties (so-called "voluntary" contributions, compensation for damage to the state in criminal cases and the like).
That said, the Belarusian power system is subjected to corruption and abuse of various kinds. However, such criminal activity is only attributable to concrete individuals, rather than being a behavioural standard sanctioned in the highest power echelons.
The most common types of abuse of power by the law enforcement, not related to bribes include:
- granting jobs to relatives
- offering paid services to businesses
- owning businesses (registered to 3rd persons).
Locally, the Belarusian law enforcement, commercial structures, executive and supervisory bodies often link together, creating a system of mutual cover-ups, conspiracy and protection.
In the Belarusian power system, there is only one power centre, which grants powers and resources to other actors. Other state bodies either raise funds and/or implement the decisions of the central political power. Due to severe repressions, the Belarusian security forces or their senior officers are unable to obtain economic influence in addition to power influence, so as that could threaten the existing government system in Belarus.
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.