Staff reshuffles in Belarus ahead of presidential campaign
President Lukashenko dismissed Oleg Proleskovsky as Information Minister and appointed a new spokesperson in his administration.
The president is reshuffling public officials who will be responsible for the presidential campaign’s success in 2015: recently, some regional heads and regional law enforcement heads were replaced. Influenced by events in Ukraine, Belarusian authorities are tightening the screws for state agencies and officials responsible for national security and public safety, primarily, for the law enforcement agencies and regional leadership. Their goal is to improve executives’ discipline and reduce manifestations of corruption, as well as to fine-tune the information and propaganda machine in counteracting potential external information threats.
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.