11 April 2012
The oppositional analysts used to hope that the head of the Presidential Administration of Belarus Uladzimir Makey would establish better relations with the West. His background created the impression of a sophisticated politician familiar with the West. He made it to the top of the Belarusian regime from a small Belarusian village and shabby army positions.
10 April 2012
Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz served as the US ambassador to Belarus between 1994 and 1997. He arrived in Belarus a few months after Alexander Lukashenka was elected president and witnessed Belarus sliding from a relative democracy into authoritarianism. Ambassador Yalowitz agreed to share his thoughts about what was going with Belarus in 1990s and the current situation.
09 April 2012
Last month for the first time ever, the EU introduced sanctions against a number of companies, which supply oil refinery products to EU countries. It means that there is still a possibility of expansion of painful economic sanctions against Lukashenka's regime.
There is no dominating opinion in the assessment of the possible effects of the EU sanctions'...
06 April 2012
Yesterday Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talked with Alexander Lukashenka over the telephone. On the same day Lukashenka announced at a meeting with Belarusian foreign policy officials that he may release some of Belarus' political prisoners.
The relation between these two facts is unclear. However, this coincidence once again provokes thoughts as to Russia's...
05 April 2012
Over the last fifteen years Belarusians have become used to the authorities' brutality during opposition demonstrations. Since 19 December 2010 the police have been particularly repressive, leaving no opportunities for protesters. But the massive rally in Minsk on 25 March, Freedom Day, was unexpectedly peaceful.
The police behaved in an unusually friendly manner. This led some...
04 April 2012
Belarusians and Lithuanians have a long common history which started long before the Grand Duchy of Lithuania 500 years ago. Two nations followed clearly divergent paths only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. When Lukashenka came to power, he recognised the state border of Lithuania and thus prevented the main source of possible tension between two countries.
29 March 2012
Although formally a member of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), unfortunately Belarus does not participate in any of its programmes. It is excluded from visa liberalisation, the EaP flagship initiatives, and bilateral track programmes: for example, the Small and Medium-Size Enterprise Funding facility with a ...
28 March 2012
The EU Council of Ministers recently introduced new restrictive measures against Belarusian businessmen and 29 companies that allegedly support the Belarusian regime. It is the first time the EU added so many Belarusian enterprises to its ban list. European politicians expect that it will help release political prisoners in Belarus. But in practise, it may lead to further deterioration of the...
27 March 2012
Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich is a veteran of Belarusian politics. He served as Deputy Prime Minister of Soviet Byelorussia and then independent Belarus and was the key aide of Prime Minister Kebich, the main rival of Alexandr Lukashenka in 1994 presidential elections. In 1990s Lukashenka even promised to imprison him for corruption. But after being...
26 March 2012
Two things are already certain about the September 2012 parliamentary election in Belarus. First, the ballot will once again be rigged so that the “right” candidates are elected. Second, the West will not recognise the elections as free and fair.
The logical question, then, is why the Belarusian authorities still bother to organise elections and invite foreign observers to...
23 March 2012
German-Belarusian relations are currently at an all-time low. The tension is rising, and it is still uncertain when the German ambassador will return to Minsk. In the meantime, the Belarusian authorities are doing everything possible to further deteriorate relations. As a result, all major German parties now support new sanctions against Belarus.
20 March 2012
This month the EU External Action faced a stubborn unwillingness by two post-Soviet countries to listen to its advice on political reforms. As the diplomatic scandal unfolded in Minsk, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry protested against the behaviour of the EU Ambassador to Ukraine. At the...