Commemoration of victims of Stalinist repression: Statkevich holds on to protest strategy
On October 29th, 2915, a street action with about 120 participants was held near the KGB building in the centre of Minsk to commemorate the victims of Stalinist repression. Mikola Statkevich, who continued his attempts to expand the ‘freedom space’, initiated the action.
The participants lined up with candles in their hands in front of the building, and then left the candles on the steps at the KGB’s main entrance. This was the fourth protest action held by Mikola Statkevich. It should be noted that despite the fact that no arrests have been reported the number of participants has not grown compared with the earlier actions.
On the night of October 29th -30th, 1937, more than 100 representatives of the Belarusian national elite – writers, poets, scientists and public figures were executed in the NKVD building in Minsk (now the KGB headquarters).
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.