Regional minorities’ organizations
National minorities’ organizations in the Belarusian regions operate exclusively within the cultural sphere. During the election campaign nationality card is not played. None of the minorities’ associations have officially put forward their candidates for the parliamentary elections.
The palette of the national minorities’ organizations is rather broad. Organizations’ activity varies depending on the region however there are several general trends:
1) In recent years, the central authorities have deliberately been weakening the positions of the regional “Union of Poles in Belarus” (UPB). Once it was a mass and the most active national minority organization. The number of the UPB members that support the official Union of Poles is not growing, while organization’s activities have reduced to formal cultural initiatives.
2) Strengthening of the pro-Russian/Russian national organizations in Vitebsk and Mogilev regions. In comparison with the UPB, the local authorities have the diametrically opposite attitude towards these organizations. They either tacitly approve or actively promote activities of the Russian national organizations. In their activities these organizations go beyond the cultural field. Moreover, these organizations count lots of members. Unlike centralized UPB, Russian national organizations look like a network.
3) Jewish organizations are active too. In almost all regions, these are the most massive organizations with sustainable financing from abroad.
Preconditions for the full-scale activity of a national organization, apart from loyalty to the authorities, are close ties of the Diaspora members with their “historical homeland”, financial support, including from outside Belarus. Perhaps, the weak activity of the majority of the national minorities’ organizations is due to the lack of serious problems with the national minorities. At the same time, pro-active stand of Russian national associations can be explained by the metropolis’ special position.