Two main opposition alliances form ahead of presidential campaign in Belarus
Most popular opposition politician Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu, who has recently announced his divorce from the opposition, is not planning to abandon politics completely and still may participate in the upcoming elections, if civil society groups offer their support. The opposition still has not agreed a joint strategy for the presidential campaign and continues to create pre-election alliances around two main centres – the United Civil Party and its leader Anatol Lyabedzka, and “Tell the Truth!” campaign and its activist Tatsiana Karatkevich. The opposition is unlikely to nominate other alternative candidates for the presidency due to the scarcity of resources.
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.