Belarusian secret services step up their activities ahead of presidential elections
Independent Belarusian journalist and military analyst Alexander Alesin, who was arrested on suspicion of spying for a foreign country, was released on bail from the KGB jail. Alexander Alesin was charged with treason and cooperating with the secret services of the security or intelligence agency of a foreign state. However, allegedly the main suspect in this case is a foreign diplomat. The Belarusian authorities are trying to restrict access of foreign countries even to open information about Belarus’ defence potential due to increased tensions in the region and mutual distrust. In addition, repressions against the opposition and independent civil society are likely to increase ahead of the presidential election, as well as accusations of cooperation with foreign intelligence services.
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.