Officials unable to organize active resistance to state apparatus reform
On July 2nd, the National Intellectual Property Center staff published an open letter on the Centre’s website, expressing regret about striping them off civil servants status.
The state apparatus reform is painful, but it is totally under control of its initiators in the ruling group. Rare resistance cases to the reform reflect the overall inability of officials to actively oppose it.
In an open letter the Center’s staff deplored the deprivation of their civil servant status and called the decision ‘insane’, since the Center deals with national importance issues (development and adoption of standards in the national intellectual property system). The letter also stated that on June 28th management and some Center staff resigned, refusing to continue working in the new environment.
On the same day information came through that the government is preparing a special resolution to increase the salaries the Centre’s staff and that the government will not revise its decision regarding Centre’s staff status. The open letter soon was taken off the Centre’s website.
This case is demonstrative of how Belarusian officials react to the ongoing state apparatus reform. Firstly, officials’ protests are passive: people prefer resigning quietly to contesting reforms’ principles. Secondly, the most active protest form is public appeals, which is a clear sign that the situation is hopeless and that the issue had failed to be resolved behind the scenes.
Thus, the ruling group is firmly in control of the reform progress and may not worry about the organized resistance and sabotage by the dismissed officials. Simultaneously, the government has an effective compensation tool – pay rises to those whose interests were harmed and who protested mildly.
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.