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Civil society and opposition divide over military parade in Minsk

July 04, 2017 12:00
Фото: Дарья Бурякина / TUT.BY

An internet petition has been launched against holding military parades in Minsk and for holding them outside the city. The preparations for the military parade in Minsk have raised a lively discussion in Belarusian society, social networks, independent and state media. In the Belarusian civil society exist diametrically opposed views on the militarized event: from open supporters (the BPF party) to harsh critics (Tell the Truth). Apparently, there is no unequivocal predominance of either party in society, however, opponents of holding parades with heavy military equipment in the centre of Minsk are a lot more active: they managed to collect over 8000 signatures for the petition against such parades. Nevertheless, despite the public debate, the state is unlikely to give up on large-scale militarised events, which are among major components of ideological indoctrination of the population and ensure the loyalty of the power block.

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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.