World Ice-Hockey Championships: regular operation mode
Before and during the first week of the World Ice Hockey Championship, the police detained some 30 activists across Belarus.
Having the World Ice-Hockey Championships in Minsk had no effect on the political life in Belarus. As expected, the Belarusian authorities have not amnestied political prisoners, but increased the security measures in Minsk, which also implied tighter conditions for the opposition. Intelligence agencies have increased their pressure on opposition activists and independent media not only in Minsk, but also in the regions. Today the Belarusian authorities are busy with organisational modalities and the propaganda machine has not yet used the Championships to ensure growth in popularity of the state institutions, which, however, will be done after the Championships.
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.