State-run media lose audience and influence to independent media and online channels
Gomel blogger Maxim Filipovich will be tried for illegal production of media products (Article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). The state media are often criticized by independent analysts for poor quality of news, analytical and entertainment content. Previously, the population appealed to the Russian media as an alternative to the state media. Although the Belarusian authorities criticised the dominance of Russian content on the Belarusian information market, in general, they were fine with such a situation. Recently, most likely, online video channels on social and political topics saw an increase in traffic and influence on the public opinion; their quality improves and they become more appealing and in demand in Belarus. During the protest rallies in March and April, the Belarusian ideologists and the state media clearly lost in the information confrontation to the independent media outlets (Belsat, Radio Liberty, TUT.BY and video blogs). In addition, the influence of the propaganda product made by Belarusian ideologists has significantly decreased, even on the traditional electorate. Most likely, lobbyists from the state media would try to compensate for the non-competitiveness of their news products with restrictions on video broadcasts on the Internet.
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.