Minsk not to complicate relations with Western capitals by persecuting former candidate Mikhalevich
The Belarusian authorities have briefly detained ex-presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich, who returned to Belarus from the exile. Official Minsk does not want to complicate the emerging positive process of normalization in Belarusian-European relations by imprisoning former 2010 presidential candidate. Mikhalevich said nothing yet about his plans regarding returning to politics and his arrival to Belarus is unlikely to affect the pre-election alignment in the opposition. Nevertheless, he might become more active in the opposition politics after the presidential campaign in Belarus, which will certainly depend on the authorities’ actions after the elections. In particular, bearing in mind not yet closed criminal case against Mikhalevich.
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.