Belarusian leadership demonstrates fatigue with ‘reformists’ for lack of successes
President Lukashenka strengthens the positions of conservative-minded state managers, who focus on relations with Russia and Soviet practices in the humanitarian field. Apparently, the fight in the nomenclature for further socio-economic development strategy and cultural choice has deteriorated. Most likely, the president is discontent with the lack of progress in ending the economic crisis by the reformists and is ready to resume the conservative management approach.
The president last week promoted two deputy heads of Minsk executive committee head Shorets.
The president’s appointments were perceived ambiguously in Belarusian society, and some even caused a public outcry. For instance, people sharply criticised the appointment of a Communist party member, Karpenko, who is well known for his dedication to the Soviet system and attempts to counteract the ‘belarusisation’ in Minsk, as the Education Minister.
Before becoming the Education Minister, Karpenko was responsible for the state ideology in the Minsk City Administration, which prompted many analysts to believe that Belarus might take a u-turn to Soviet ideological practices and/or hold a referendum to extend the presidential and the parliament’s terms. Apparently, the integration of the Belarusian educational system in the Bologna process, started by the outgoing Minister, could be suspended. That said, the president has somewhat balanced out the situation in the humanities by appointing Karliukevich, former head of Zviazda, Belarusian-speaking holding, as Deputy Information Minister.
Most likely, unsuccessful attempts of reformers in the government to drive the country from the social and economic crisis have prompted the country leadership’s nostalgia and a desire to strengthen ideology in social sphere.
Overall, amid lingering social and economic crisis, the Belarusian leadership aims to boost positions of conservative-minded executives from ideological administration in the upper echelons of power.
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.