Prior to his visit to Moscow, President Lukashenko drummed up support of metropolitan
At a meeting with Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, President Lukashenko said that he supported the Orthodox Church’s active participation in public affairs. The meeting took place ahead of Lukashenko’s telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his visit to Moscow. Prior to his appointment in December 2013, Metropolitan Pavel served as Archbishop of Ryazan and Kasimov (Russia). His appointment has affected the independence of the Orthodox Church in Belarus from Russia and provoked a negative reaction in Belarusian society and among Orthodox clergy, who wanted to see a Belarusian national in this position. President Lukashenko allegedly met with Metropolitan Pavlov to enlist his support ahead of talks in Moscow.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.