Bargaining for Political Prisoners Has Begun? - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Belarusian analysts began discussing the reasons why Lukashenka pardoned nine participants of protests against falsification of elections in December 2010. Others analyze why those protests have not materialized in political changes and what comes next as the economic crises deepens.

Official Minsk starts bargaining for political prisoners? Alexander Zaitsev, a columnist of, examines the possible reasons for Lukashenka’s pardon of nine participants of Ploscha events on December 19, 2010. The journalist believes that the first batch of the amnesty "is likely to be a trial balloon, an attempt to assess the reaction of the West, to throw the hook for a possible dialogue". Over thirty people, including several presidential candidates, remain in Belarusian prisons.

What is happening in Belarus explains Alexander Feduta, political analyst who works for Vladimir Nyaklyaeu's team. According to him, the crisis in the Belarusian economy is payback for populism, and the violent suppression of silent protests linked to the authorities' fear of any public expression of discontent. Unlike in Ukraine during the Orange revolution, there is no independent television in Minsk, nearly anybody can be dismissed from work for political reasons and no rich people who could support the opposition. Feduta hints that they will come up with an alternative strategy to combat the crisis in September.

Delayed revolution. Moscow-based Andrey Suzdaltsev writes about the completion of the Internet revolution in Belarus. He considers silent protests campaign successful, because it demonstrated the protest potential of ordinary Belarusians. Political analyst predicts that suppressing peaceful protests, the government thus could provoke people protests of force format.

The dangerous passivity. Sergei Nikolyuk disagrees that protests will revive to the autumn: "We still observe the reverse process: authoritarian regime is not “crumbled” under pressure by people on squares, but on the contrary, the people come out to the squares after the regime is “scattered”. The cornerstone of  a contemporary state regime can only constitute active citizens who are ready to bear responsibility.  The economic crisis, however, makes Belarusians to distance themselves from the state and they become very passive. At some point the quantity of those who distance themselves from the state will turn into quality and the state will start crumbling. This is when according to Nikolyuk squares in Belarus will be filled with protesters.

Vain hopes on the German-Russian agreements on Belarus. Mikhas Ilyinsky points out that the Belarusian issue was not on the agends of German-Russian consultations at the highest level in Hanover, held on July 18-19. In any case, the analyst is sure that “the hope for the advent of democracy from the East (Russia) is at least dangerously naïve, and intentionally or not - in fact, encourages Belarus to the loss of state sovereignty”.

Public Councils in Belarus. Olga Smolyanka, director of Legal Transformation Center, writes on legal regulation of the formation and activities of the public councils in Belarus. These councils function under auspices of state institutions, such as ministries to reflect pubic opinion in decision-making by official bodies. She concludes  that the lack of clear regulation of activities of public councils and the possibility of state organs to ignore recommendations hinders their effectiveness.

State of gender policy in Belarus - Lyudmila Petina analyzes the state of gender equality and women's rights in Belarus. She thinks the Belarusian experience of recent years has no significant positive changes. Moreover, the last period should be called “the time of missed opportunities and the destruction of gender education”. There are no legislative mechanisms to address domestic violence against women and no attention to gender issues on the labour market. Prosecution of a number of NGOs, including working on gender issues, absence of transparency and civil dialogue affected position of women on the labour market.


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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