2016 Parliamentary Campaign, Army Modernisation, Belarusian Yearbook 2016 - Digest of Belarusian Analytics
Belarusian authorities relax pressure on the opposition during election campaign in order to normalise relations with EU and US. The Ostrogorski Centre finalises the project supporting research papers on foreign policy, security, and education policy in Belarus. Unreformed economy slows the modernisation of Belarusian army.
CSO Sustainability Index of 2015 released: Belarus has improved its position by 0.1 point. Belarusian Yearbook 2016 is available in Russian and English. Mediakritika.by on hate speech in Belarusian media. This and more in the new Digest of Belarusian Analytics.
Parliamentary elections 2016
Will the Opposition Be Allowed to Get To Parliament This Time? – Artyom Shraibman, TUT.BY and associate analyst of the Ostrogorski Centre, notes that the upcoming parliamentary elections are special because of the intense warming of relations with the EU. Nevertheless, Lukashenka will not allow the opposition to get to the parliament; he will hold a more transparent campaign instead and dilute the parliament with loyal political parties - it should maintain the current sluggish, but positive dynamics in the EU relations.
Belarusian Authorities Relax Pressure On Opposition During Election Campaign In Order To Normalise Relations With EU and US – Belarus in Focus analysts believe that in anticipation of a positive feedback from the West, the Belarusian authorities are unlikely to put obstacles for the opposition in the ongoing parliamentary campaign. Regardless of the high competition for a parliamentary seat, Belarusian electorate remains rather passive and apolitical.
Belarus Foreign Policy Index #32 (May and June 2016) – In its regular product BISS explores Belarus’s foreign policy in the five key dimensions – Russia, EU, Ukraine, Chine and the developing world. In May-June, relations with Russia evolved constructively. A level of contacts between Belarus and the European Union becomes much higher. Belarusian-Chinese relations were focused on the potash theme.
Foreign Policy, Security, and Education Policy in Belarus – In July the Ostrogorski Centre successfully completed the project producing eight research papers in the areas of foreign policy, security and education of Belarus. The project was supported by the grant from the Mott Foundation and implemented in cooperation with the Pontis Foundation. Please find a publication of paper abstracts here.
Minsk Seeks to Demonstrate to NATO its Independence – Belarus in Focus analysts believe that Minsk continues maneuvering between the West and Russia in anticipation to cooperate with each party to the conflict. Minsk aims to establish multi-level communication channels with the West, while it offers further cooperation in the security field to Russia. That said, the Belarusian authorities are not ready to commit to the West in the security field.
Unreformed economy slows modernization of Belarusian army. Alexander Alesin, a military analyst, believes that a modest economic capacity of the country not only hinders the modernization of the Belarusian army, but, in the negative case scenario, may lead to a reduction in its combat potential. While the Belarusian army is advanced in terms of the soldiers’ training, it has outdated, still Soviet weapons, military equipment, and infrastructure.
Key Challenges in Foreign Gratuitous Aid Legislation – Legal Transformation Centre Lawtrend analyses the first months of a new legislation on foreign donations. The main conclusion is that the current legislation of the Republic of Belarus establishes a complex and cumbersome procedure for obtaining, registration and use of foreign gratuitous aid and does not take into account the specifics of CSOs.
Is Belarusian Government Interested in Supporting CSOs? – Olga Smolyanka, the Centre for Legal Transformation Lawtrend, analyses the current situation in the Belarusian CSO sector and formulates the key concern – an individual non-transparent support by the state. To change this approach, first of all, authorities should stop seeing enemies in CSOs and, finally, recognise their social benefit. Then it's possible to develop legislation on the cooperation of CSOs and the state, including financial issues.
Human Rights Situation in Belarus: June 2016 – Human rights Centre Viasna has released its monthly monitoring that shows that June was not marked by any systemic changes demonstrating the authorities’ commitment to improving the country’s human rights situation. The overwhelming majority of the unauthorised peaceful assemblies was not forcibly stopped, however, the participants continued to be brought to administrative responsibility in the form of fines.
2015 CSO Sustainability Index for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia – Belarus has improved it position by 0.1 points but remains in a niche of “impeded sustainability” as the previous 15 years. Namely, slight improvements are noticed in reduced government harassment, successful advocacy campaigns, use of online crowdfunding platforms, social contracting, grassroots organising, and public image. Developed by USAID, The Index reports on the CSO sectors in over 20 countries in the region.
Belarusian Yearbook 2016 – The annual book presents a comprehensive analysis of the key developments and current status of the main sectors of the state and society in 2015. Three processes determined the political agenda – the presidential election, normalisation of Belarus’s relationship with the West, and the economic recession. The CSO trends are reflected in the “Society” section.
Study: Gender Aspects of Hate Speech in the Belarusian Media – Mediakritika.by together with the EHU Centre for Gender Studies presents the results of a study on the use of hate speech in the Belarusian media. The experts analysed both the state and independent media from January to March 2016. The key finding is that the language of hostility is used in all reviewed media on different groups and individuals for various topics.
U.S. Military Band Tests the Soft Edge of Hard Power in Belarus – The Wall Street Journal writes on the Air Force band’s jazz ensemble that spent six days in Belarus playing concerts around the country. The visits were the brainchild of Scott Rauland, the chargé d’affaires in the U.S. Embassy in Minsk. The band’s visits, he said, were “really effective diplomacy” and a chance to restart a diplomatic relationship largely frozen after the 2008 expulsion of American diplomats from Belarus.
Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.