Belarusian leadership strengthens regional headquarters in preparation for autumn-winter campaign
President A. Lukashenko has signed a decree introducing a new post, The Authorized Representative of the President in the Regions and Minsk, in addition to already existing assistants or chief inspectors in the regions and the capital. Together with the formation of central political, power and economic HQs in the view of the autumn-winter election campaign 2017/2018, the Belarusian leadership is strengthening the regional electoral machine. Apparently, the presidential administration is having difficulty obtaining objective information about socio-political sentiments in the regions, especially after the closure of the last independent pollster, IISEPS, in 2016.
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.