Presidential candidate Alexander Lukashenka dominates information space
Lukashenka has waived the right to appear on the state TV with his election programme as a presidential candidate and has not yet filed a request to participate in the TV debates with other candidates. However, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists Monitoring, the incumbent president dominates in the state media coverage of the elections, occupying up to 80% of the broadcast and of the state newspapers’ space. The head of state is attempting to keep a large distance between him and other candidates and is not participating in the campaigning events. However, his team has pursued an aggressive campaign, including covert propaganda. The main objective of the incumbent president’s campaign is to create an impression of inevitability of Lukashenka’s re-election.
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.