17 February 2017
From January to early February 2016, Belarus and Lithuania drifted further apart as their diplomats exchanged tart-tongued statements over the safety of the Astraviec NPP and Belarus’s sovereignty. Alexander Lukashenka, who remains unwelcome in the EU, travelled to more sympathetic Egypt and Sudan.
The Belarusian authorities continued with their efforts to restore the...
08 February 2017
Although the Belarus is struggling to deal with a dramatic economic decline, the authorities are considering hosting a large international sporting event in 2019. On 9 January, Belarus established a committee to organise the 2019 European Games.
The games, managed by the European Olympic Committee, resemble the Pan-American and Asian games. Last October, Lukashenka stated that...
31 January 2017
In 2016, Belarusian diplomats succeeded in getting rid of most Western sanctions, improving the international legitimacy of the national parliament, regularising dialogue with Europe, and converting Poland from a strong critic into a good partner.
Nevertheless, they failed to make Lukashenka fully presentable to his peers in Europe, alienated Ukraine’s political elite, botched...
25 January 2017
On 28 December 2016, a former employee of the Presidential Administration received a five-year sentence for paedophilia. The news led to a widespread outcry among both citizens and human rights defenders.
Belarusian courts continue to measure out harsh punishments for drug-related and non-violent crimes. Minor crimes, such as inappropriate social media posts, lead to lengthy...
24 January 2017
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.
18 January 2017
On 22 December 2016, three Belarusian street artists sued an investigative committee for unfounded accusations of hooliganism. On 13 January, the court rejected the claim, pointing to the absence of any violations of the artists' rights.
Street art has became a new form of political expression. The disproportionate reaction of authorities to street art is reflected in administrative...
17 January 2017
Starting 12 February, citizens of 80 states, including 39 European countries, will be able to enter Belarus visa-free through the Minsk National Airport. But unlike Kazakhstan, which allows foreigners to stay in the country for up to 30 days, Belarus introduced a much more tricky visa-free regime.
Foreign travellers should be prepared for strict penalties should they fail to understand...
16 January 2017
Belarus’s diplomatic activities slowed down before the holidays in December. The country’s diplomacy focused mostly on a multilateral agenda in preparation for its chairmanship of the Central European Initiative, as well as manoeuvring at the United Nations.
Foreign minister Vladimir Makei’s statement at an OSCE meeting was perhaps meant to be a programme declaration,...
12 January 2017
On 15 December President Aliaksandr Lukashenka appointed vice-mayor of Minsk Ihar Karpenka as Minister of Education. However, two important facts about the latter have caused serious discussion within the Belarusian expert community.
First, at the moment of his appointment, Ihar Karpenka was the Head of the Communist Party in Belarus. Second, the dismissal of the...
10 January 2017
Diplomacy between Belarus and Georgia has taken on new life. On 20 December 2016 Belarus finally opened its embassy in Tbilisi. This decision, long and complicated for both sides, has proved their intention to renew bilateral dialogue. This step could also indicate a new Georgia–Belarus strategy towards Russia.
Belarus and Georgia have never been strategic partners. The countries...
06 January 2017
In October-December 2016, almost 2,000 tourists took advantage of new visa-free regulations to visit Hrodna Region. In response to the increasing amount of foreign tourists, Hrodna Region has started working on two important initiatives: visa-free railway voyages and launching low-cost flights to Hrodna airport.
However, making railway services and the Hrodna airport accessible visa-...
23 December 2016
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...