Despite mass lay-offs, authorities control situation with labour movement

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April 22, 2016 18:50

Bobruisk-based ‘Belshina’, a state-owned tyres maker, has started mass lay-offs in connection with the modernization and narrowing markets for Belarusian products. Despite workers’ discontent, there were no protests against such policies by the management. The Belarusian authorities manage to keep protest activity among workers under control – not only due to repressions, but also because of the labour migration. Workers in the regions often leave for Minsk or go abroad, mainly to Russia, to find better-paid jobs.

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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.