Vadzim Smok is the Ostrogorski Centre coordinator in Belarus and researcher at the Institute of Political Studies 'Political Sphere' based in Minsk and Vilnius. Originally from Hrodna and he currently lives in Minsk. Vadzim has a BA and an MA in Political Science from European Humanities University in Vilnius, Lithuania. His main research interest cover comparative politics, political institutions and local and regional politics. /All articles/
Numbeo, the world's largest database of user-confirmed data about cities and countries worldwide, ranked Belarus the safest country in the region in 2017. Other global metrics also indicate that Belarus is a relatively safe part of the world.
Domestic trends demonstrate that all kinds of crime have decreased over the past decade, with the exception of drug crime. However, political...
On 12 April, Belarusian authorities arrested Vitali Arbuzaŭ, one of the most successful businessmen in Belarus. He was another casualty in Belarus's ongoing war against tycoons.
Being close to Lukashenka is by no means a guarantee of safety for oligarchs, and many prefer to register their companies and reside abroad. Those who cannot do so must demonstrate their support for the...
On 11 April, the official Belarusian media launched a massive propaganda campaign. They aimed at revealing the alleged plans of a group called White Legion to destabilise the country and overthrow the government. The White Legion is a patriotic sports and military-style organisation which ceased to exist in the early 2000s.
At the moment, 35 people remain under investigation on charges...
On 22 March, Alexander Lukashenka revealed an extraordinary discovery – the authorities had arrested armed fighters who were planning to overthrow the government on 25 March, the day when the Belarusian opposition traditionally celebrates Freedom Day with mass rallies.
The fighters allegedly had training camps inside Belarus and in neighbouring countries. The official media also...
In 2015 Belarus joined the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and committed to putting a Roadmap for higher education reform into effect by 2018.
The implementation of the Roadmap is running behind schedule, which poses a threat to fulfilment of Belarus' obligations by the due date.
This paper released by the Ostrogorski Centre today analyses the main challenges to...
The year 2016 left Belarus with a serious economic problem: its unresolved dispute with Russia over energy.
On 9 January 2017, the Russian daily Kommersant revealed that Moscow will reduce oil supplies to Belarus from 4.5 to 4m tonnes in the first quarter of 2017. In doing so, Russia is pressing Belarus to pay its $425m gas debt.
Simultaneously, Belarus announced the...
On 26 October 2016 a new visa-free area along the Augustow Canal, a conservation protection zone in the Hrodna region on the border with Poland and Lithuania became effective.
Tourists will also be able to visit adjacent districts of Hrodna region as well as the city of Hrodna (population 300,000) visa-free, an unprecedented measure in the history of sovereign Belarus.
In June the Investigatory Committee of Belarus confirmed that Eduard Paĺčys, the editor of the website 1863x.com, was extradited from Russia and is undergoing criminal investigation.
The website was known for its critical position towards Russian and Belarusian authorities, and its author had remained anonymous until his arrest.
Political activists have already recognised him as...
On 8 June Belarusian ambassador to Ukraine Valiancin Vialička reiterated that Belarus supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
He emphasised that Belarus will never pose a threat to Ukraine or allow third parties to attack Kyiv from its territory. He spoke at the presentation of 'Foreign Policy Audit: Ukraine-Belarus', a discussion paper prepared by the Institute of World...
On 18 April the Belarusian authorities launched the trial of Taras Avataraŭ, a fighter from the Right Sector battalion who participated in the Ukraine conflict.
Earlier this month they introduced amendments to legislation which allow prison sentences for those fighting in foreign conflicts for ideological, not just mercenary, reasons.
However, the government seems to be taking a...
On 23 March Evgenia Shipova, official representative of Uber Technologies in the CIS region, announced that Minsk was developing faster than in any other city in Europe, Africa or the Middle East. Within four months, 80,000 city residents used this online taxi service.
Feeling threatened by the competition, regular taxi drivers have requested that the government investigate Uber...
Belarus continues to boost cooperation with western partners and is seeking to avoid excessive economic dependence on Russia.
MPs hope to receive special guest status at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) after the issue of the death penalty is resolved in Belarus.
Foreign minister Vladimir Makiej says that the current turbulence in the world has made the...
On 28 January the Polish Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers proposed granting residence permits to a million migrants currently in Poland. The majority of them are Ukrainians, followed by Belarusians and Vietnamese.
In recent years Poland has been aiming its immigration policy at absorbing a young labour force from the regions of former Polish rule, and has created unique preferences...
Increase in Illegal Migration to EU via Belarus, Cultural Treasures Restitution – State Press Digest
In a time of economic downturn, the Belarusian authorities fear making any changes to the current political and economic model, which is well regarded in the state press. The Belarusian leadership has rejected market reforms and is resorting to administrative measures, increased regulation and strict discipline.
Major state-sponsored organisation Belaja Ruś, dubbed a “party of the...