Case of Chizh sets frameworks for supervisory bodies
In the evening on September 14th, 2016, Yuri Chizh, a businessman close to the president, was released from the KGB jail without a trial. President Lukashenka and the KGB provided comments on the release. The KGB said that Chizh agreed to indemnify damage to the state, as estimated by the supervisory bodies. The president said that with regard to financial crimes he believed that reparation of damage was sufficient without imprisonment. Overall, with the case of Chizh the president’s message to business was clarified: the state might raise additional funds from business, however, in case of reparation of the damage (usually overly estimated) to the state, business could continue its activity.
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.