Political prisoner Statkevich is still a player in political field
On February 5th, website of Statkevich (he is a former presidential candidate and political prisoner) published his 2nd letter from prison. Statkevich again proposed to analyze the 2010 presidential campaign and its consequences. In particular, he wrote that one of the candidates had filed 3 denunciations against him.
On the one hand, revision of the 2010 presidential campaign events will further reduce mutual trust within the Belarusian opposition and the possibility for coalitions’ expansion. On the other hand, lustration is unavoidable because the opposition movements are not growing and they have abounded mutual claims.
Public debate, following publication of Statkevich’s letters, demonstrates, that all those involved acknowledge extensive “shady side” in the preparation for the 2010 presidential campaign. While participants of the debate (Neklyaev, Rymashevsky, Statkevich’s proxy Martselev) willingly refer to these shady agreements, they do not disclose details, as this could allegedly damage the political prisoners remaining in prison.
It is important to emphasize that prison censors allowed the letters in question out of the prison. The authorities are interested in fights among the opposition therefore do not seize these discussions. Moreover, the authorities are interested in that the participants in the debate keep the distance, because Statkevich’s release is likely to settle all the issues he raises.
In particular, in his first letter Statkevich asks ex-candidate Nyaklyaeu why the agreement about a meeting in a neutral territory on Decembef 19th, 2010 had been broken. As a consequence, Statkevich had to go to “Tell the Truth!” movement offices and later was attacked by unknown persons along with Nyaklyaeu hours before the meeting in the Minsk center. In his second letter Statkevich says that the most ‘Christian’ candidate (probably Vitaly Rymashevsky) thrice denounced him, which he learned from the case files. Rymashevsky publicly refuted these allegations.
Thus, the authorities are interested in the opposition leaders back-firing at each other. A year ago, in the run-up to parliamentary elections, opposition leaders also spar with each other amid accusations of lobbying the regime interests when raising the issue of lifting of economic sanctions. As a result, a broad electoral coalition was not created and the opposition carried out several disparate campaigns. In the meanwhile, the release of Statkevich depends on other political factors, for example, on guarantees for a new credit programme with the IMF.
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.