President Lukashenko enhances national security
Major General Leonid Dedkov has been relieved of his duties as the KGB Deputy Chairman by a secret presidential decree. Since early 2014, President Lukashenko has been reshuffling his regional law enforcement heads amid events in Ukraine and stronger anti-corruption rhetoric. As the presidential elections draw closer, Lukashenko’s keen attention to the security agencies will only grow. By permanent rotations and reshuffles in the security agencies’ management, and provoking competition between them, the president makes sure he has full control over the security forces.
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.