Belarusian opposition is likely to use opened window of opportunity

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September 19, 2016 10:11
Image: TUT.BY

The Belarusian authorities have allowed the opposition in the parliament in anticipation that it would strengthen conflicts in the democratic camp. Meanwhile, by participating in the parliamentary elections the opposition has more chances to use the window of opportunity which has opened.

Under pressure from the opposition, the international community, the economic recession and threats from Russia to Belarus’ independence, for the first time in 12 years the Belarusian authorities allowed the opposition in the parliament, while preserving non-transparent vote count and voter registration and restrictions on campaigning. The authorities count on that stronger opposition is likely to start new internal conflicts and split-ups. Indeed, some members of the United Civil Party sharply criticized the party leadership for agreeing to the parliamentary mandate of Anna Kanopatskaya on unfair terms. Yet there are quite a few dissenting voices in social networks, the UCP partners in the centre-right coalition have not publicly expressed their agreement with the UCP decision (UCP leader Anatol Lyabedzka said that the decision was coordinated with the coalition partners). Criticism is caused primarily by the fact that for two years in a row the UCP was building its political capital on persistently condemning Tell the Truth campaign for the readiness to cooperate with the authorities – both, for participating in the "electoral performance" and for a hypothetical will to accept the parliamentary mandate from the government.

Simultaneously, a new generation in political parties, co-opted and/or introduced to the political scene in the parliamentary elections, is mostly in favour of the tactics of participation in the elections even on the authorities’ terms and supported the UCP decision to accept the mandate of Kanopatskaya, believing that all means to put pressure on the government are worthy. The UCP decision was supported by Tatiana Karatkevich (almost immediately), by Tell the Truth, by the Belarusian Popular Front leader Yanukevich, and by the Belarusian Social Democratic party (Hramada).

In turn, Anna Kanopatskaya and the UCP leadership outlined their plan to use the parliamentary platform, including, first of all, disclosing election fraud. Since the constituency of Kanopatskaya was not observed by the UCP but by Tell the Truth, the latter said they have passed all observation documents to the democratic candidate.

The overall impression of the moods in the democratic camp is that regardless of whether the opposition will be able to use the window of opportunity, opposition candidates and the opposition in general feel inspired by participation in the elections (especially new activists) and will seek additional pressure opportunities on the authorities.

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Minsk attempts to make up for image losses from military exercises by opening to Western values
October 02, 2017 11:49
Image: Catholic.by

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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