President follows vox populi when appointing local executive heads
President Lukashenka has appointed new Head of Kryčaŭ Executive Committee following protests by local population demanding his resignation. After mass protests in the spring of this year and before the local elections, the president has become more sensitive to local people’s needs in staffing policy, especially in cases of open discontent with local leaders. In August - September, the president replaced leaders in 15 districts, and rotated staff in the regional executive committees and departments across the country. In the view of the 2017/2018 election campaign, throughout summer the Belarusian leadership monitored, trained and strengthened weak links in the power vertical, especially in the regions.
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.