Anti-Reform Camp Wins, Analytical Papers – Ostrogorski Centre Digest

In February Ostrogorski Centre (OC) analysts commented on the lifting of EU sanctions, Belarus' new military doctrine and the economic challenges the Belarusian government is facing amid the deepest crisis since 1990s.

As the repercussions of the continuing economic crisis become more obvious for both the authorities and the population, the struggle within the Belarusian leadership over the future of the national economy has been intensifying. The authorities appear to have taken a strategic decision not to launch comprehensive reforms, while probing the population’s reaction to certain social and economic problems.

Ryhor Astapenia analyses the pro and anti-reform camps within the Belarusian elite following the recent statement by President Alexander Lukhashenka that no economic reforms will be carried out in Belarus. The anti-reform coalition includes heads of state-owned enterprises, officials who work in the ministries and bodies tasked with coordinating the state sector, and supervisory agencies that benefit from arcane rules and regulations. While they currently seem to have won over Lukashenka, the president is also giving senior positions to liberals and allowing them to engage in open debate with the old guard.

Vadzim Smok analyses the recently updated energy security concept, according to which Belarus remains a country with a critical level of energy dependence. 90 per cent of Belarusian energy imports come from a single supplier – Russia. Moreover, a third of export revenue is traditionally generated by refining Russian oil. The authorities prefer to retain the status-quo as an easier and conflictless strategy, but the need to strengthen statehood will sooner or later require a solution to this deep problem.

Lizaveta Kasmach discusses a new Belarusian government initiative to decrease maternity leave from three to two years. Considering the challenges that the Belarusian economy is facing in 2016, with falling oil prices and the ongoing recession, the state is trying to find ways to optimise the inefficient social security system as a means of stabilising its expenditures. However, Belarusian mothers are not yet ready to accept the reform, as the state lacks the necessary infrastructure to organise adequate childcare.

The Pontis Foundation and Ostrogorski Centre invite proposals for analytical papers

Within the framework of their systematic support of social and political analysis, the Pontis Foundation and the Ostrogorski Centre announce a call for proposals for funded research studies in the areas of foreign policy, security and education.

The main goal of the proposed activities is to stimulate a dialogue between Belarusian analysts, experts, journalists and representatives of civil society. It also aims to increase their ability and capacity to participate and contribute to the policymaking process through stimulating discussions on selected topics - in Belarus and internationally.

Deadline - 23 February 2016. Read more here.

Comments in the media

Bloomberg quotes OC senior analyst Igar Gubarevich in an artiсle on the EU's recent decision to scrap sanctions on Belarusian officials. Igar argues that the EU is most concerned with issues of regional security and so is reluctant to rebuke Belarus, which has recently acted like a fairly independent player, and push it into Russia’s embrace.

Polish Radio interviews OC senior analyst Siarhei Bohdan on Belarus' gradual distancing from Russian policies. Minsk has been building alternative ties across the world to ensure protection from an increasingly assertive Russia. Belarus is becoming a more independent player on the international scene.

Belarusian newspaper Naša Niva republished an article by OC senior analyst Siarhei Bohdan on Belarus' new military doctrine. Triggered by Putin's policies in the post-Soviet space, this document reveals fundamental changes in the mindset of the Belarusian establishment, Siarhei argues. Belarus now identifies Russia as one of the major threats to its national security.

Belarus Profile

The BelarusProfile.com database now includes the following personalities: Vadzim Mažejka, Siarhej Patapenka, Alieh Butkievič, Paviel Cieraškovič, Kaciaryna Barnukova, Aliona Zujkova, Anastasija Luzhina, Aliaksandr Paźniak, Aliaksej Dziermant, Andrej Beliakoŭ.

We have also updated the profiles of Ihar Pielipaś, Uladzimir Panciuchoŭ, Andrej Naumovič, Siarhiej Nalivajka, Viktar Nazaranka, Uladzimir Niakliajeŭ, Michail Puzikaŭ, Natallia Piatkievič, Jaraslaŭ Ramančuk,Agnieszka Romaszewska Guzy, Ihar Račkoŭski, Kiryl Rudy, Anatoĺ Rusiecki, Maksim Ryžankoŭ.

Belarus Policy

The Ostrogorski Centre continues to update the database of policy papers on BelarusPolicy.com. The papers of partner institutions added this month include:

Any partner organisation of BelarusPolicy.com can submit its research for inclusion onto the database by completing this form.

The Ostrogorski Centre is a private, non-profit organisation dedicated to analysis and policy advocacy on problems which Belarus faces in its transition to market economy and the rule of law. Its projects include Belarus Digest, the Journal of Belarusian Studies, BelarusPolicy.com and BelarusProfile.com. Follow all the news from the Ostrogorski Centre on Facebook.​

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