Opposition consolidates those displeased with decree on social dependants while authorities encourage them to find jobs
The Belarusian leadership will not abandon the decree on social dependants but will introduce amendments to step up employment and lower protest potential. Amendments would include targeted approach and would scrap educational, medical and communal guarantees to the unemployed. Opposition parties and blocs have not changed their strategies: the Belarusian National Committee counts on the growth in street protests; "Tell the Truth" wants to negotiate with the authorities and use legal pressure tools; while right-centrists aim to combine both approaches for the mobilization of their local activists.
The president has always advocated for high employment, which, according to the authorities, could help to prevent threats to social and political stability. In addition, a large share of the public sector in the economy allows the state and official trade unions to control the workers' movement. However, recently the authorities have also demonstrated their readiness to support large private business, loyal to the Belarusian leadership.
Apparently, the authorities have taken into account the shortcomings and mistakes of the previous version of the decree on social dependants and plan to use a more selective and targeted approach. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to chase the unemployed, however, would apply additional measures against most active citizens. In addition, the government insists on targeted approach and exclusion of the unemployed from the state social guarantees in healthcare, education and housing and communal services.
Centre-rightists and "Tell the Truth" aim to soften the authorities' approach to the unemployed through applying public pressure and proposing alternatives, which, in their opinion, could relax tension in Belarusian society due to the tax pressure by the authorities. Centre-rightists are starting to make field trips to the regions to unite their supporters and prevent them from joining the Statkevich-led BPC or engaging in street protests. In addition, the authorities could adopt some proposals of the opposition to blur the opposition's economic message during the election campaign.
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.