Minsk to restrict activity of Russian nationalists
SB - Belarus Today, the Presidential Administration newspaper, has published an article warning against the participation of Belarusian children in "military-patriotic camps" organised by Russian nationalists in collaboration with the Orthodox Church. Under the pressure of the opposition, the Belarusian authorities are forced to respond to excessive intensity of pro-Russian activists in Belarus. The government understands the dangers of such activity, but it has to act very cautiously. The state is ready to take measures to prevent separatist sentiments, however not by explicitly prohibiting such activities. The Belarusian authorities are carrying out a ‘soft belarusisation’ policy, which is blocked by the Russian World supporters in the echelons of power, who, perhaps, are equal in number with the supporters of Belarus’ independence.
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.