Opposition is against the nomenclature privatization
On March 15th several members of the Belarus’ Supreme Council of the 13th convocation signed a petition against the so-called “nomenclature privatization” in Belarus. The meeting was chaired by the United Civic Party Chairman Lyabedzka and the Belarusian Leftist Party “Fair World” Chairman Kalyakin.
The joint statement by members of the Belarus’ last legitimate parliament is an important political capital. However, the ex-deputies’ ability to influence the situation in the country is rather symbolic than political. Their resolutions are therefore easily ignored by the ruling group.
There is a strong view that in the Belarus’ modern history the Supreme Soviet of the 13th convocation was the last legitimate authority before the constitutional reforms were undertaken by President Lukashenko by 1996 referendum (in violation of the Constitution). This legal conflict was successfully neutralized by the strong presidential authority and suppressed by the state propaganda.
However, in principle, there is still the opportunity to restore the law which has been violated 17 years ago, and the joint statement by the Supreme Soviet deputies of the 13th convocation intended to draw attention to this. In particular, as a ‘weapon’ the deputies chose an extremely sensitive issue for the Belarusian elite – the ownership issue: illegitimate Belarusian authorities are not entitled to dispose of public property. Therefore the petition’s authors promise to review the deals with strategic enterprises after the rule of law is restored in Belarus.
In practical terms, the probability of restoring the law and the parliamentary power continuity in Belarus is very small, because president Lukashenko remains the key figure in the managerial elites system that he had created in Belarus. Also note the initiative’s ambiguity: doubts about the Belarusian nomenclature’s legitimacy effectively marginalize the authors of the statement. Since 1996 there were five convocations of the Parliament in Belarus and a whole new generation of nomenclature groups.
The authors clearly understood the risk of their marginalization and therefore focused only on the infeasibility of privatization of large strategic businesses, not all. Moreover, the opposition’s demand is generally consistent with the president Lukashenko’s current policies, de facto banning the privatization of Belarusian assets, and even creating the conditions for re-privatization.
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.