Civil society promotes ‘Belarusisation’ while opposition discusses political strategies
Last week, civil society activists discussed independence and sovereignty and how to promote views different from the state propaganda. "Tell the Truth" has presented a strategic plan and initiated a discussion about the opposition's strategy for the next five years.
“Tell the Truth!” leader Andrei Dmitriev has presented a strategic development plan for the organisation (could be applied to others, too) for the next five years based on his assessment of the real opportunities for the opposition. Its main point is that the opposition must be represented in the parliament and local councils proportionally to the support of society (20%-30% according to many years of polls), and gain membership in public councils of executive bodies at all levels. "Tell the Truth!" believes this would help democratic forces to gain political weight and promote reforms.
Leaders of other political organizations spoke out against the "Tell the Truth" plan. For example, Belarusian Popular Front leader Alexei Yanukevich said that the plan was unrealistic because the authorities only talked about a dialogue, without the intention to implement it, and that the opposition should aim, first of all, to transform the entire political system before gaining seats in representative bodies. United Civic Party leader Anatoly Lebedko voiced similar objections, as well as “Fair World” party leader Sergei Kalyakin. On July 27th, the centre-right parties (UCP, BCD and For Freedom) resumed inter-party consultations with the FW, BSDP (Hramada) and the Greens. The Belarusian National Congress leader, Mikalai Statkevich, said he would focus on the preparations for the protest action on September 8th, 2017.
Civil society has focused on promoting Belarusisation and alternative history. For instance, civil activists have proposed to boycott Savushkin Product dairy products due to the producer’s absurd justification of the refusal to duplicate titles on the packaging in Belarusian. Many civic initiatives and all independent media outlets celebrated the alternative independence day of Belarus on July 27th (on July 27th, 1990 the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Belarus was adopted).
The ongoing discussion about the opposition strategy is likely to continue, however the opposition is unlikely to agree on a common approach. Alternative views about the Belarusian national identity are likely to gain popularity, especially, provided that the state not only would oppose it, but may borrow some ideas from civil society.
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.