Opposition’s electoral activity fits acceptable frameworks set by authorities
On February 20th, the registration of local candidates concluded in Belarus. The competition within a constituency is 1.2 candidates per seat, which is similar to the 2010 local elections.
The authorities managed to keep the opposition’s activity within the set frameworks. By registering fewer opposition candidates, the authorities attempt to avoid politicising problems induced by reduced social benefits. During the campaigning stage, targeted repressions against the most active opposition candidates may be used. However, local authorities will not introduce excess restrictions on campaigning for most party leaders, because they rely on full control over the election commissions.
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.