Conventional opposition activities remain unattractive for Belarusians
On the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, the Belarusian opposition held a traditional rally Chernobyl Path. Despite the Anniversary and permission granted by the authorities for the rally, and regardless of the Nobel Literature Prize winner Svetlana Aleksievich among organizers, the event was not crowded. According to various estimates, about 700 – 1000 people participated in the rally this year. The ongoing economic crisis has not helped to boost participation in the conventional opposition activity. If people’s well-being continues to decline, protest activity is likely to gain new forms, beyond the control of the opposition.
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.