Viktor Sheiman is Lukashenka’s envoy in contacts with odious regimes
Belarusian Chief of the Presidential Administration, Viktor Sheiman, has visited Zimbabwe and held talks with the president of this African country. Since his resignation from the Security Council Secretary post in 2008, Sheiman rarely appears in Belarus’ public space. Once having almost unlimited influence on President Lukashenka, still . After 2008, Sheiman somewhat lost the president’s trust for a while, but he is the only member of the Lukashenka’s team, which brought him to power in 1994, who has remained in the power system. Sheiman is often dealing with the most "scrupulous" and secret foreign missions, such as establishing contacts with odious regimes and implementing investment and other projects with questionable reputation outside Belarus.
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.