No party of power will be created in Belarus
On October 19, Chairman of the quango “Belaya Rus” Mr.Radkov announced that it would not be transformed into a political party.
Belarusian nomenclature elites submitted to President Lukashenko’s decision. However, it does not necessarily mean that no other party of power will be established in Belarus before the next parliamentary elections of 2016. “Belaya Rus” will focus its effort on work with electorate instead.
The decision which Radkov voiced means that a group of public servants from Lukashenko’s milieu have not acquired sufficient influence over him. Thus, “Belaya Rus” is not capable of lobbying the issue of transforming their organisation into a political party. Moreover, they are obviously not in a position to decide on the transition from the current majority electoral system to proportional or mixed.
As a result, the question of political prospects for “Belaya Rus” has been postponed, at least until the next parliamentary election of 2016.
It is worth noting that the precedent of October 19 grants the head of state unwritten rights to close the issue of electoral reform in the Republic of Belarus due to the fact that at present there is no socio-political entity which could be compared to “Belaya Rus” in terms of size and influence, and could initiate political reform.
In terms of image, the precedent clearly illustrates that lobbyists from “Belaya Rus” have been defeated. For several years, they have aimed to raise the status of their organisation, voicing this idea both publically and behind the scenes. First and foremost these were Mr. Radkov, who is also First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, as well as Information Minister of Belarus, Oleg Proleskovsky, and Chairman of Council of the Republic, Anatoly Rubinov.
As a result, activists from “Belaya Rus” have to put up with their dwindled ambitions and focus on their traditional social activities, namely, promoting the state policy and supporting governmental initiatives in practice.
“Belaya Rus” will most likely participate in other election campaigns, to local Councils of Deputies in 2014 as well as in the 2015presidential elections where, according to Radkov, it will represent “a President’s majority”. This will be achieved by providing infrastructural support for the desirable candidates (a network of public receptions, “Belaya Rus”, mass media etc.
There is a possibility that “Belaya Rus” will use the Russian Popular Front established by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a role model for further development. On October 18, Putin doubted the expediency of transforming the Front into a political party as he believes it will immediately limit the scope of its activities. However, there is a significant difference between “Belaya Rus” and the Russian Popular Front. The initiative to establish the former came not from Lukashenko, but from Belarusian nomenclature and was viewed as a tool to control civil society. These two facts allow President Lukashenko to disparage the political ambitions of “BR” members.
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.