State property privatization could lead to anti-corruption fight in state apparatus
The Belarusian authorities avoid a wide public anti-corruption campaign and keep this topic low profile in order to reduce people’s discontent with the authorities. Meanwhile, the Belarusian leadership used anti-corruption prosecution to balance out different nomenclature and business groups in the regions and at the national level. Nevertheless, amid the decline in traditional economic sectors, attempts to redistribute state assets are likely to strengthen tension and spur anti-corruption inquests related to business interests.
According to the Global Corruption Barometer - 2016 by the Transparency International, 45% of Belarusians believe that the state is not doing enough to fight corruption.
The president seems to have abandoned the fight against corruption for quite a while now. He has clearly outlined the acceptable corruption level, which is determined by people’s attitudes and public discontent with public demonstration of personal well-being by representatives of the ruling elite. The lingering economic crisis and falling household incomes have distracted citizens from the corruption theme, which is not among the priority issues for the society, according to a study by Transparency International.
Nevertheless, corruption prosecution is among the mechanisms of redistributing the influence between regional nomenclature groups. The most recent high-profile case was in Bobruisk, where the city mayor Andrei Kovalenko was detained on suspicion of bribery. Kovalenko differed from the ‘conventional’ Belarusian mayors by being a more open, creative and somewhat democratic ruler.
In addition, apparently, the fight for state property in the centre of Minsk has prompted the president to look into the issue of transferring to the High-Tech Park a public building of Minsk Production Association of Computer Engineering. It is worth noting that so far, due to the economic success of the IT industry as compared with the traditional economic sectors, IT managers have been successful in defending their positions vis-a-vis the state and gradually promoting their interests.
The Belarusian leadership monitors corruption perceptions among the population in order to adjust the state anti-corruption measures and maintain government ratings.
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.