Opposition’s political agenda comes closer with social and economic expectations of population
For twelve days civic activists protected Kurapaty sight from the construction of a business centre. The Belarusian authorities de facto refused to escalate the confrontation with the opposition, whose claims to abandon the construction and restore the legal protection of Kurapaty were supported by the locals. Despite the support from the security forces, the private developer decided not to involve in the conflict between the authorities and the protesters and abandoned the construction plans. Recently, the threshold of fear of open protests in Belarusian society has decreased and opposition activists and ordinary citizens often mutually supported one another. Apparently, the political and ideological agenda of the opposition is beginning to respond to social and economic expectations of the people, whose latent discontent with the state policies is transforming into open protests on the national and local scale.
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.