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.
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.