Belarusian opposition confuses their supporters with conflicting strategies

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April 22, 2016 19:18

Belarusian political prisoner and former presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich, who is in the Mogilev prison, urged Belarusians to civil resistance on the election day. The opposition has neither joint arrangements, nor a single scenario for the election campaign, in fact, they are sending mixed messages to society. Even bitter opponents of President Lukashenka cannot reach an agreement about the single scenario how to oppose to the regime. Political prisoner Statkevich has called upon Belarusians to mark ballots so that it “would clearly show their opposition to the policies of the ruling regime”. Former leader of the “Tell the Truth!” campaign, Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu appealed to the opposition candidates to withdraw from the election campaign, which somewhat coincides with the boycott strategy by Charter 97. So far, the Belarusian authorities are satisfied with the swordplay by the opposition, one part of which is fully involved in the election campaign, while the other part calls to boycott the elections thus disorienting the opposition electorate.

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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.

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