Belarus Human Development Better Than in Two EU Countries - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Alexander Klaskousky. Photo: tut.by.

March was a busy month for Belarusian analysts and international organisations studying Belarus.

The United Nations Development Programme reports on the development of countries and Belarus ranks 50th in terms of social and economic progress.

BISS challenges the belief that Belarusians are strongly for independence with fresh survey results. What are the geopolitical preferences of Belarusians? – their report gives an answer.

Viasna reviews the situation of the human rights in Belarus. The Kalinowski programme celebrates its 7th anniversary and Generation.by takes a closer look on the project and sums up some interesting facts about it. 

Belarus in International Context

Belarus in 2013 UNDP Human Development Report. According to this regular UN study, Belarus is ranked 50th out of 186 nations in terms of economic and social progress.  It is classified as having high human development and scored higher than Russia (56th), Romania (57th), Bulgaria (58th) and Ukraine (78th). The report is based on a composite statistic of education, life expectancy and income indices to rank countries into four tiers of human development - very high, high, medium and low. 

Belarus is not included in the top five Internet enemies. On 12 March, the World Day Against Censorship in the Internet, Reporters Without Borders, an international advocate for press freedom, labelled Syria, China, Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam as "enemies of the Internet" in a new report for their alleged increased online surveillance. Belarus is not mentioned in the report. 

How much people spend on food in different countries? The discovery by European food shoppers shows that spending on food as a share of total income has declined markedly, but at the expense, some say, of quality: people in poor countries are forced to devote a far higher share of income to buying food.  Belarus is in the top in the list where households have to spend significant sums on food, alcohol and tobacco.

Improving the Situation in the World. What is Important for Belarusian Women? – In January, the United Nations launched a global survey "My World", where everyone can choose what she/he thinks the most important for a better world. Six priorities of Belarusian women looks like as follows: better health care, honest and effective government, protection from crime and violence, affordable and quality education, protection of forests, rivers and oceans, non-discrimination and harassment. The first four priorities coincide with the global one.

Politics and Human Rights

Geopolitical Preferences of Belarusians: Too Pragmatic Nation? – BISS presents its new research which studies the attitude of the Belarusians towards the main integration centres – Russia and the EU. The comparison of the data obtained in 2010 and 2013 made it possible to explore changes in some of the crucial trends. As a result, some of the popular stereotypes about the geopolitical choice of the Belarusians were debunked, specifically, the stereotype about the predominantly value-based choice of ‘Euro-enthusiasts’ and integrity of ‘Russophiles,’ as well as the myth about the brotherhood with Russia.

Amplituda. Belarus Authorities Phenomenally Lucky with the People – analyst Alexander Klaskousky, a guest of TUT.by program Amplituda, discusses the characteristics of street protests in the recent history of Belarus, slogans and speeches of the opposition, the authorities' response and relocation of protests to the Internet. The expert believes that Belarus needs street protest but both the authorities and the opposition should learn them.

The Conservative Revolution: Breakthrough to the Past – Alexander Adamyants, Centre for European Studies, continues to debate between liberals and conservatives. In his article, the author presents the dispute as a competition of ideas about the present and future of Belarus. The expert believes that the current conservative futurism is a breakthrough in the past, in a bygone era which has only of historical-philosophical sense, but nothing more.

ABC. Political Review # 1, 2013 – Analytical Belarusian Centre presents its first Political Review in 2013. The paper examines proposals on changes in the electoral law; the process of coalition building of the opposition forces; and the readiness of the official Minsk to start another cycle of the Belarusian-European relations.

What Should Institution of the Ombudsman be? - Legal Transformation Centre gives its response to the draft Concept of National Institution on Human Rights in Belarus. The experts consider the proposed concept as quite liberal; namely the document provides that an Ombudsman can have a meeting with any official, including the president, at his/her first request. However, experts strongly protest against the position that the ombudsman should be appointed by the president, as it is limited a lot freedom to criticise.

Situation of Human Rights in Belarus in 2012. Review-chronicle – Human Right Centre Viasna presents the analytical review on the basis of the monthly reviews of the situation of human rights in Belarus in 2012. Each of the monthly reviews includes the analysis of the most important events which influenced the observation of human rights for the given period, as well as the most evident and characteristic features of the abuses registered at that time.

Society

Nationwide public opinion poll of March 2013 – in March 2013, Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS) conducted a public opinion poll covering the most topical aspects of life in Belarus. Namely, for the last three months "economic well-being" of Belarusians has worsened. However, this mood is not directly transferred to the president whose electoral rating rose slightly compared to December, from 31.5% to 33.4%. Ratings of opposition have been declined: only 13.1% of respondents trust in opposition political parties, while 60.9% do not trust.

Generation.by Examines the Kalinowski Program – Online edition Generation.by identifies 13 interesting facts of the largest Kalinowski programme which celebrates its seventh anniversary. The programme supports the repressed Belarusian students by enabling them to continue education at Polish universities. In particular, it is noted that, in general from 2006 to 2012, about 685 people took part at the Program, 100 of them completed the full cycle of education (bachelorship and Master's degree). Each year, the Polish government spends for the Program about 1.25 million euro.

Social Nihilism of Liberal Junta – Victoria Kharkevich, conservative centre NOMOS, makes a contribution to the debate between conservatives and liberals. The author strongly criticises the main statements of the recent Alexander Adamyants’ article, ranking him as a representative of "nihilistic reservation of liberalism". She invites all intellectuals of any direction to overcome their stamps and scheme and come to a new vision of themselves, the world and the future, what she calls a "conservative futurism".

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.

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