Minsk not to take chance to limit Russian media dominance in Belarus
‘For Freedom’ opposition movement the Russian TV channels’ broadcast in public places since they “have become a mouthpiece of neo-imperial militarist revanchism”. The Belarusian authorities are interested in bridging the gap in Belarus’ split society and limiting the impact of the ‘Russian World’ aggressive ideology on the population. Nevertheless, the authorities have not yet developed effective mechanisms to counter Russian propaganda in Belarus. The president has repeatedly voiced interpretation of events in Ukraine that was different from the Kremlin’s, however the latter is still dominating in Belarus’ public opinion and Belarusian ideologues seem powerless against it. Simultaneously, the authorities hesitate to introduce restrictive measures against the Russian media, at least as long as they refrain from criticising Lukashenko.
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.