Presidential Administration goes into public
Having insured future financial stability of the country with favorable agreements with Russia, the leadership of Belarus strives to regain the loyalty of the population decreased during the currency crisis. At the same time the Presidential Administration rushes to strengthen its influence on the domestic policy against the Government.
Between 28 November and 2 December the Presidential Administration and the State Control Committee in conjunction with the Prosecutor General Office and the Security Council monitored the work of state bodies with citizens’ appeals.
A number of favorable loans and commercial agreements signed by the Belarusian authorities (about the gas price and transit, the sale of shares of “Beltransgaz”, loan for the construction of a nuclear power plant) provide the country’s leadership with a leverage to rule out the “hard lending” of the economy scenario and seize the deterioration of the living standards of Belarusians, associated with high inflation.
While visiting enterprises and labor collectives, senior management officials solve two problems at once: firstly, they send positive messages through the entire vertical of power about the end of the acute phase of the economic crisis; secondly, they strive to regain the loyalty of the population, which has declined during the currency crisis period. September sociological poll shows that loyalty to the authorities (President, Government, Parliament, law enforcement agencies) showed only 30% of the respondents. Recent activities of the authorities suggest that by the year-end the level of trust to the authorities will increase.
In 2011 this role of the Presidential Administration has been significantly weakened against the background of the increased influence of the Government: the latter stands for implementation of the strict monetary policy and for the economic development in compliance with the requirements of international organizations (the IMF and the ACF of the EurAsEC).
Along with the global challenge of gaining back the confidence of the population, the Administration responds to the local and, in fact, more urgent challenge of restoring its influence as the main domestic policy maker. In 2011 this role of the Presidential Administration has been significantly weakened against the background of the increased influence of the Government: the latter stands for implementation of the strict monetary policy and for the economic development in compliance with the requirements of international organizations (the IMF and the ACF of the EurAsEC).
Financial support and loans received by Belarus from Russia allowed the Administration to remove the issue of meeting the IMF requirements in the near future from the agenda and continue with its usual economic policies, i.e. funding of the economy via emission. The recent monitoring campaign headed by the Presidential Administration, gave the Presidential Administration and its head Vladimir Makey in particular, the opportunity to secure tactical victory over the government (representatives of the Council of Ministers were not part of the monitoring team) and to boost the popularity of President Lukashenko, who desperately needed to improve his internal political influence (in September, 61% of Belarusians blamed him for the economic crisis).
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.