Regional conference of the democratic forces. Mogilev
In the end of March Mogilev hosted a regional conference of democratic forces. The conference was attended by representatives of the United Civil Party, Belarusian Popular Front, Belarusian Social Democratic Party NG, non-registered party of Freedom and Progress.
The conference was also attended by guests from the movement “For Freedom” Mr. Milinkevich and Mr. Gubarevich, as well as one of the authors of the “Strategy 2012” Mr. Mackiewicz. The main subject for discussion at the conference was preparation and participation in the 2012 election campaign.
The delegates decided to boycott the Parliamentary elections in 2012, if all political prisoners in Belarus were not released by the beginning of the election campaign.
This decision of representatives of the Mogilev Democratic Forces was adopted almost unanimously. The only reservation was that the 2012 elections “still needed to be prepared for”, given that the authorities could ease up on the political situation at any time. The idea of having a dialogue with the government and holding of legitimate elections in 2012, met little sympathy among the conference participants. This confirms our criticism regarding the prospects for consolidation of the democratic forces across the country. Meanwhile, this inflexible decision at the regional level could be attributed to particular rigidity of the local authorities. During the latest presidential campaign, Mogilev authorities have not included a single representative of the opposition in the territorial election commissions.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.