Online petitions addressed to authorities gaining popularity in Belarus
In recent years, online petitions addressed to government agencies are gaining popularity in Belarus, especially among young people. In most cases, the authorities are not obliged to respond to such appeals, even though recent petitions have been drawn up in full compliance with the legislation. In addition, such petitions often have a wide public response with a large number of signatories, prompting officials to meet the demands of activists, especially if they do not contradict the interests of the central government, and focus on local issues. However, if online petition activity promoting issues of public interest increases, officials may lobby legislative restrictions on such appeals.
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.