Council of the National Revival Council of Belarus Limited to Information Work
On July 7, the Chairman of the National Revival Council Vladimir Baradach published another evaluation report on President Lukashenko’s policy via the Internet website Belaruspartisan. In his statement, he expresses fears that the Belarusian authorities are slowly putting the country on a war footing.
Despite the initial ambitions of former law enforcement officers to create a transition Belarusian government-in-exile, the initiative remains no more than a media campaign. The founders of the National Revival Council have not managed to gain political support either in Belarus or abroad. Their work is limited to information and media activities in the Internet.
Since the organising committee of the National Revival Council was presented in late May 2012, the initiative of the Belarusian former law enforcement officers who now live abroad has remained at the stage of an “auction bid”. None of the political forces in Belarus have joined the initiative so far. Also, the most known and influential political and civic movements gave it negative reviews.
Although Vladimir Baradach and Anufriy Ramanovich stress that most organisation work is carried out in secret to protect activists from the actions of the Belarusian security services, their statements only raise skepticism. The authors of the project to establish a shadow government-in-exile have set clear political goals: to change Lukashenko’s regime. However, the absence of political leaders in the project reduces the initiative’s credibility.
Members of the Revival Council have to maintain a minimal level of public interest towards their activities and they prefer to appeal to independent internet media. It should be pointed out that the main, and probably the only, spokesperson for the Council is a former special forces commander Colonel Baradach. He is famous for his extremely radical statements, for example, details of the disappearance in 1999 of the former head of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs Yuri Zakharenko (according to Baradach, Zakharenko was first tortured and then shot and burned.)
It is expected that without political support within Belarus and abroad, the founders of the National Revival Council will not be able to come up with newsworthy events. Therefore, the initiative is likely to come to nough.
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.