Political parties focus on domestic political agenda, while civil society resists amendments to the Media Law
Political parties have drawn conclusions from the local election campaign and started preparations for the next election cycle, including the presidential and the parliamentary elections. The centre-rightists have stepped up negotiations about a “single candidate”, Tell the Truth is strengthening its presence in the regions, the Belarusian National Committee is making plans to use official events to stage street protests. Civil society activists and journalists are attempting to raise the profile of amendments to the media law among their foreign partners and through MP Kanopatskaya to reduce the restrictive effect of the draft law.
Political parties do not aim for a massive Chernobyl Path rally and do not undertake significant mobilisation efforts, except for an attempt to raise funds to hold the rally through crowdfunding. Hence, Chernobyl Path is likely to attract only usual opposition activists.
Changes in the leadership of political parties persisted. For instance, the United Civic Party Chairman, Anatol Lyabedzka, said after leading the party for 18 years, that he had no intentions to run for the party leadership in the summer this year. That said, he could still be nominated as a presidential candidate from the right-centrists in the upcoming presidential elections and retain the de-facto leadership in the UCP. Tell the Truth has focused on the party-development and the expansion into Belarusian regions in the view of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary campaigns. Following the creation of the first regional organization in Dzerzhinsk, they plan to establish field presence in 37 other districts in Belarus.
In turn, the BNC aims to stage street protests during the official events organised by the authorities. For instance, Statkevich has addressed his supporters to take part in the official May Day celebrations with protest slogans. That said, the conflict between online activists who organised the Freedom Day concert and the BNC leaders has escalated with mutual accusations and disputes.
The journalistic community’s efforts to counteract the proposals to amend the Media Law aiming to tighten control over the media – through MP Kanopatskaya who proposed alternative amendments – have led to nothing. In addition, civil society has made efforts to draw the attention of the international community to the said amendments. For instance, Reporters Without Borders have issued a statement in this regard.
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Situation in Belarus