- Ryhor Astapenia is Development Director at the Ostrogorski Centre. He also edits the Belarusian internet magazine Idea and coordinates the BelarusProfile.com project. Ryhor is currently working on his PhD at the University of Warsaw and advises civil society organisations in Belarus. He is originally from Salihorsk, Belarus.
On 20 January, Alexander Lukashenka described the reactions of Russian officials to the introduction of the new five-day visa-free regime in Belarus as 'groans and wails.'
Recently, rhetoric surrounding Russian-Belarusian relations has become so sharp that some journalists and analysts believe the Kremlin plans to overthrow Aliaksandr Lukashenka or occupy Belarus.
The Belarusian authorities have recently shown interest in developing business education; evidence of this can be found in the Concept adopted by the Belarusian government in 2015. However, the Ministry of Education has not yet done much to adjust state regulations to match the situation on the ground.
Three key problems exist today. Representatives of the government, the international...
While the governments of Belarus and Lithuania continue to clash over the construction of the Astraviec nuclear power plant, Lithuanian investors in Belarus are continuing to operate normally. Lithuanian businessmen became the largest Western investors in Belarus, adding more than €80 mln to the Belarusian economy in 2015.
Investments remain at a high level, although several...
On 20 December, Polish MP Robert Tyszkiewicz publicly stated that Poland will hold parliamentary debates on the future of Belsat, an independent Belarusian TV channel based in Poland.
According to Tyszkiewicz, 'the termination of Belsat TV would mean a U-turn in Polish foreign policy, we would consider this a political mistake.'
Nearly all Polish politicians, journalists...
On 7 December, the head of the Russian Railways stated that his company can provide a large enough discount to Belarusian companies to allow them to cease transporting cargo through the Baltic States. At the same time, Latvian officials continue to pitch their ports to the Belarusian government.
So far, Belarus primarily uses Lithuanian ports, but Russia and Latvia may take advantage of...
On 15 November, Lithuanian Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis presented his country's new energy strategy. Although it is not stated directly, the strategy strongly implies that Lithuania will not buy electricity from the Belarusian nuclear power plant, which will begin operating in 2019.
In recent years, the issue of the Belarusian NPP has stifled bilateral relations and it seems that...
On 7 October, Alexander Lukashenka criticised education officials for the lack of Belarusian language instruction in schools. According to him, “because of amateurs in the Ministry of Education, it has come to the point where pupils have six English classes per week, but only two of Belarusian language”.
Such a statement may come as a surprise, given that Lukashenka is...
The results of the parliamentary elections on 11 September surprised many in Belarus. Few believed that Lukashenka’s regime would allow independent deputies in parliament, but these elections have shown that the Belarusian authorities are at least willing to appear to change.
Although this does provide optimism, Belarus and the West still need to create a new agenda to ensure that...
On 1 September, around 20 thousand foreign students will start the academic year in Belarusian universities and technical schools.
This figure has almost doubled over the past four years, with Turkmens accounting for half of all foreign students in Belarus.
The Belarusian authorities are trying to make a profit from the educational sector, hoping the relatively low price of...
Belarusian authorities are discreetly preparing a new Education Code, partly to demonstrate to the West that they are making changes. In 2015, Belarus joined the Bologna process and is now required to reform the education system accordingly.
So far, the Belarusian education law has completely ignored the issue of student self-governance. Authorities...
Since the Russian-Ukrainian conflict began, the Kremlin has persistently tried to expand its control over Belarus, a process that has had quite the opposite effect as Belarusian government policy became more independent in 2014-2015.
There has always existed a paradox in the simultaneous contingence and estrangement in Belarusian-Russian relations.
Estrangement looks the stronger...
According to Polish MP Robert Winnicki, Poland should stop funding the Belsat TV channel and improve relations with Lukashenka. Although Winnicki remains a marginal figure in Polish politics, his statement is indicative of a new political climate in Poland.
Many Belarusian NGOs hoped that the new Polish...
On 24 June, Belarusian authorities once again refused to include Intex Press, a regional newspaper, into the state distribution system. A few other Belarusian regional publications face the same problem, and almost all of them have reduced their circulation and earn less money than in 2015.
Although they flourished in the 1990s, independent regional publications have since suffered due...
According to recently-published data from the Ministry of Finance, Belarusian Cement Plant lost $ 16.5 million in 2015.
Such news may not come as a shock for the Belarusian economy as a whole, but is a disaster for Kasciukoichy, one of a few Belarusian monotowns.
Single-industry towns remain one of the curses that Belarus has inherited from the Soviet Union and almost all of them...