03 August 2015
Belarus has never had anything resembling the number of migrants it has recently experienced. Over the past 12 months the Belarusian population, thanks to the 100,000 refugees from the Donbas, has increased by 1%. Indeed, Belarus has more Ukrainian migrants per capita than any other country.
Belarus is not a particularly attractive destination for migrants, since it does not offer much...
03 August 2015
Since 1991, two opposing conceptions of Belarusian national identity have coexisted side by side. One glorifies Belarus’s Soviet past, cultural ties to Russia, and victory in the Second World War (WWII) as the nation's founding moment. Until recently, this has been the preferred identity narrative of the Lukashenka regime.
The alternative conception focuses on the country...
30 July 2015
For many foreigners the Latinised spellings for Belarusian places and names continue to present real difficulties or just appear unpronounceable.
Belarusians themselves feel annoyed about the ways their names are transliterated from Cyrillic into Latin script. It has become even more complicated with Belarus having two official languages - Belarusian and Russian.
20 July 2015
Two months ago dozens of prominent Belarusian intellectuals and civil society leaders called for the establishment of a Belarusian national university. This push followed realisation by leaders of Belarusian civil society that they were powerless to influence the election of the rector of the European Humanities University – the largest donor-sponsored independent educational project...
24 June 2015
Older Belarusians nostalgic for the Soviet past rather than youth make up President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s natural electorate.
Since the late 1990s, Lukashenka has put considerable effort into building support among younger people. A key role in the process was played by the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (Belorusskij Respublikanskij Sojuz Molodeži, BRSM).
23 April 2015
The Belarusian authorities have strived to maintain what they view as the best features of the Soviet past. Twenty years after collapse of the Soviet Union, well-decorated bulletin boards celebrate the accomplishments of overachieving workers in state enterprises, voluntary neighbourhood clean-up days (Subotniki) remain obligatory for all state employees, and a lavish festival (Daszynki) marks...
21 April 2015
Russian pro-government media outlet Lifenews has recently criticised Lukashenka's decision to not participate in the 9 May Victory Day Parade in Moscow. Many in Russia think that Minsk's integration rhetoric has been replaced with a form of soft Belarusianisation. Following the events in Crimea, Lukashenka...
15 April 2015
Belarus remains the only European country excluded from the Bologna Process to date. This situation may finally change on 14-15 May 2015 when the ministerial meeting of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) will consider Belarus’s second attempt to join the 47-nation club.
Even though the Belarusian system of higher education has not seen any fundamental improvements in recent...
14 April 2015
On 5 March a soldier from a border unit near the city of Hrodna committed suicide while on duty. Although over the past couple of years the authorities have taken serious measures to reduce the number of deaths and amount of abuse in the army, such incidents continue to occur.
The Army has lost much of the social prestige and role it played in Belarus. Young people see it as an...
09 April 2015
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...
01 April 2015
“Minsk Phenomenon” was the title of a 2013 Russian-language translation of University of Giessen historian Thomas Boehn’s book, which addressed the dominance of the city of Minsk in the development of contemporary Belarus.
In many ways the Belarusian capital is a symbol of modern identity in a country that is often labelled “Soviet,” but is perhaps more...
31 March 2015
On 25 February the local government of the Belarusian town of Kruhlaje announced that its residents will have an obligatory unpaid day of work. The authorities still are trying to collect money for the annual Dažynki festival, since the financing from the state budget was cut back in 2014.
In 1990s the authorities decided to turn a folk harvesting holiday into a magnificent festival, to...