Belarusian president continues to reshuffle senior staff, including prominent manager Semen Shapiro
Semen Shapiro was relieved of duty as Chairman of the Minsk Oblast Executive Committee due to the transfer to another job, and a few days before that decision, he was appointed to chair the Hockey Federation. Semen Shapiro is one of the prominent and successful managers in the presidential vertical, he has a vast experience in the state apparatus and has earned the president’s confidence. Previously, he headed the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture and Foodstuffs. Semen Shapiro is considered as one of the most likely candidates for the Prime Minister post, albeit he might be a way too strong player in the president’s environment. Shapiro’s dismissal has not come with any public complaints about his activity as the Head of the Minsk Oblast Executive Committee. It should be noted that Great Stone Sino-Belarusian industrial park is located in the Minsk Oblast and after the president’s visit to Beijing, he is likely to be expecting a significant increase in Chinese investments and loans. Most likely, the president is conducting his conventional personnel policy – rotates senior managers in order to keep them from forming stable nomenclature groups with own business interests.
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.