Opposition fails to attract more participants in its events
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Belarus’ independence, the opposition organised several events in Minsk. However, unlike the celebration of the Declaration of Sovereignty of Belarus, the 25th Anniversary of Belarus’ independence was less popular among the population. Party activists and opposition supporters were scattered among different initiative in Minks and regions: the centre-right propaganda picket near Komarovsky market, the BPF rally near the Sports Palace, the unauthorized procession organised by the "Malady Front" and other regional initiatives. Many activities with a small number of participants have created the impression of a larger participation. That said, the authorities also emphasized the importance of the independence and sovereignty of Belarus in their rhetoric and almost did not interfere with the oppositional activity.
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.