- Volha Charnysh is an Associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. She works on a PhD in international relations and comparative politics. Volha is an alumna of Smith College and comes from Hrodna, Belarus. Her personal web site is charnysh.net.
On 30 January, dozens of Belarusians stood in front of the country’s Higher Court to protest police brutality. They reacted to the harsh beating of two civic activists and a journalist, Pavel Dabravolski of the news site tut.by, inside a Minsk court building five days earlier.
The recent scandal, just one of many incidents of police excesses in Belarus, has attracted public...
When Svetlana Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature, three countries at once tried to claim her success. Headlines across the post-Soviet space called her a “representative of the Russian literature”, a “writer born in Ukraine”, and a “Belarusian writer.”
Yet not only congratulatory remarks, but also hatred, envy, and accusations followed...
The official date for Belarus’s presidential election is 11 October. But if past elections are any guide, every third Belarusian will vote during the so-called “early voting” period, between 6 and 10 October.
In fact, 30 percent of Belarusians cast their ballots by the evening of 9 October, according to the Central Election Commission of Belarus.
It is a well-...
On July 17, 2015, Representative Steve Pearce of New Mexico proposed a bill imposing sanctions on JSC Belaruskali, one of the world’s largest potash miners.
Titled "Belarus Democracy and Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2015", the bill emphasises human rights violations in Belarus and warns that the October 2015 election is unlikely to be free.
The call for sanctions...
At the Chernobyl Way rally last month, activists from the opposition group Malady Front carried a controversial poster titled “Game Over.” The poster, listing most opposition parties and movements, highlighted the dire state of the democratic opposition in Belarus.
Activist Mikola Dziamidzenka, who carried the poster, explained that the opposition parties are losing...
In Western democracies, parties exist to get politicians elected and help them implement policies. In Belarus, Lukashenka’s opponents cannot succeed at either of these activities. Even the political parties that do support the regime are only marginally more successful.
There are fifteen parties registered in Belarus; seven of them side with the government. These...
The Belarusian government and Western analysts tend to agree about one thing: Belarus is a social state. Belarus may not be a wealthy country, Alexander Lukashenka likes to say, but it is a state that serves ordinary people.
Yet the 2015 edition of the Social Progress Index, released today, places...
In February 2015 following the negotiations in Minsk the President of Belarus said he was not planning to “turn to the West.” He explained, “You and I are Russian people... we have shared history. We have shared opinions.”
According to the recently released World Value Survey (WVS), Belarusians and Russians indeed have a lot in common. Respondents in both...
Belarus remains a blank spot on the map for many foreigners. A mere 137,000 tourists visited the country in 2013—twenty-one times fewer than the number who visited tiny Estonia.
Onerous visa requirements, combined with an underdeveloped service industry, undermine the country’s efforts to attract foreign visitors.
The world’s largest travel guide company, Lonely...
The Ukrainian conflict has exposed growing ideological differences among Belarusians.
When Volha Krapotsina was distributing anti-Russian leaflets in Hrodna, a fellow citizen, who empathised with the Russian side, reported her to the police. In Minsk, while some distributed stickers “We support the recognition of Novorossiya” others vandalised cars with Russian licence...
On 5 December, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko awarded a Ukrainian passport to Belarusian citizen Sergei Korotkich for “courageous and faithful service” on the battlefield.
Korotkich’s dubious past, which includes leading a neo-fascist organisation in Russia and participating in a crackdown on Belarusian pro-democracy activists in the 1990s, highlights the thin...
Belarus ranks 53rd out of 142 countries in prosperity, ahead of Russia and EU member states Greece and Romania. The rankings stem from the Legatum Institute, a private think tank based in London. According to the ranking Belarus scores highest in social capital and lowest in governance.
It is striking for any post-communist state to perform well on measures of prosperity and social...
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