President Lukashenka is counting on the support of security forces and women
Belarusian Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich, who also chairs the supervisory board of the Dynamo-Minsk hockey club, has joined the Board of Directors of the Continental Hockey League. Power authorities remain the main pillar of President Lukashenka, who redistributes state aid among security officials in exchange for their loyalty. In addition, the president pays great attention to large families, counting on the loyalty of women. It is worth noting that according to opinion polls held by independent research centres, the incumbent president is traditionally more popular among women than among men; moreover, Lukashenka’s initiative group is composed of 83% women. During the election campaign, these two social groups are likely to receive additional support from the government in order to ensure the desired outcome of the elections.
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.