As the Risk of Terrorism Grows, the KGB Strengthens its Position

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April 22, 2016 18:09

An explosive device detonated in a shop in Gomel city center on 19 April, no casualties have been reported. On April 26, the KGB reported a blast in Kobryn, two people died.

The KGB continues to compensate for the weakening of its position in the fight against corruption by strengthening the citizens’ security. The downside of this process is an increased risk to public safety, especially after the terrorist attack in Minsk subway.

Two explosions in public places continue the 2011 trend of increased risks to public safety. The risk has significantly grown after the terrorist attack in the Minsk subway April 11, 2011 and after the Ministry of Internal Affairs employed plain-clothed officers to prevent street protests in the summer of 2011. Also, they strengthen   the domestic position of law enforcement bodies, especially of the directorate of military forces of operational designation.

There are no grounds to link the increased activity of the KGB with the growing risk for public safety. In the end, however, the law enforcement agencies benefit most as bodies  entitled to prevent terrorist attacks.

The increased activity of the KGB since 2011 may also be due to the reform of the Belarusian law enforcement bodies, which took place in the second term of 2011. Thus, the powers of the KGB in conducting investigative activities were substantially limited: from 50 to 17 Articles of the Criminal Code. It is highly probable that the KGB increased their activity to compensate for the loss of power. They have significantly increased their activity aimed at protecting the regime (they supervise the unfolding parliamentary election campaign in autumn), counteract revolutions through media (classified recruitment of  \"Social Network Revolution\" activists), as well as the fight against illegal migration. The main cause of the two explosions in Gomel and Kobryn is said to be a fight for control over illegal migration channels.

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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.

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