Public officials are encouraged to ensure high turnout in local elections

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April 22, 2016 18:45

On February 20th, the amendments to the Law, envisaging the possibility for a public organization to be transformed into a political party, took effect.

Functionaries from the ‘Belaya Rus’ quango managed to lobby the adoption of these amendments in late 2013. In fact, the public association ‘Belaya Rus’ has been trying to become the ‘party of power’ since 2007, albeit unsuccessfully. As a rule, ‘Belaya Rus’ was strengthening its lobby ahead of the election campaigns in Belarus. President Lukashenko has no interest in such a political force emerging – he has been forced to make this symbolic concession to his officials. In response, during the 2014 local elections campaign ‘Belaya Rus’ will be responsible for ensuring high voter turnout on election day.

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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.