Civil society mobilises to protect Kurapaty
As of February 20th, 2017, Young Front and civil society activists, including Dzmitry Dashkevich, Pavel Sevyarynets and others, are on a 24-hour duty to protect the Kurapaty area from the construction of a business centre. Activists effectively use social media to mobilise civil society to protect the Kurapaty area, they launched a solidarity campaign and advocate to the local residents. On February 23rd, the developer met with the Minsk city authorities and a decision should be taken in the near future, meanwhile, the authorities allowed the developer to fence the construction site. The state media (eg SB. Belarus Today, the presidential administration newspaper) proposed to erect a memorial in Kurapaty, which could wind down the conflict.
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.