Belarusian-Chinese 'Geely' Car, Spiritual Revival and Local Elections - Belarus State TV Digest

Channel 1 covered an official award giving ceremony honouring prominent Belarusians.

Alexander Lukashenka introduced his fellow citizens to the new Patriarch of Belarus Orthodox Church Pavel with warm words.

Will the Belarusian-Chinese cars 'Geely' become an international hit? The head of state discussed this project with the Prime Minister Michail Miasnikovich and the Minsk Regional Governor Siarhei Shapiro.

The elections of deputies to local councils in March will take place according to a series of new rules. They include compulsory disclosure of the information on any criminal record and any sources of income. State TV concluded that the new legislation would allow Belarusian voters to get to to know their candidates better.

Domestic Politics

State awards to the prominent Belarusians. State TV afforded a great deal of coverage to the annual state award ceremony  “Spiritual Revival” for important public figures who contribute to the spiritual life of Belarusian society, the journalist explained.

This year Lukashenka entered the stage together with Pavel, the new Patriarch of the Belarus Orthodox Church. “There is a special meaning in this unity,” the state TV journalist noted. In his speech, the head of state underscored the important role of the Orthodox Church plays in society. He also focused on the fact that the church remained the only confession that the state had signed an agreement of co-operation with.

The reporter noted that the head of state spoke about the values that unite Belarusian society, such as their national ideas. Lukashenka emphasised that although throughout its existence Belarusian culture was under the influence of other cultures, including Rus, Western European and Asian, the country has still managed to protect its identity.

While Patriarch Pavel accompanied the head of state on the stage, camera also spotted in the audience​Tadeusz Kandrusievich who leads Belarusian Catholic Church.

Among others, Lukashenka awarded the news agency of state TV for its production of a series of historical movies as well as Mikola Mytlicki who translated Chinese poetry into Belarusian.

Belarusians are getting ready for elections. Elections to local councils will become one of the most important events of the year, state TV reports. However, this year new legislation will regulate the electoral campaigns. According to these new amendments to the previous laws, candidates have to disclose the sources of their income and report any criminal record. According to the reporter, it will also make candidates better known to voters.

State television even took the time to present a candidate running in the local elections, Natalia Slelian. She comes from one of the most authoritative civil society organisations in the country, Belaya Rus, the reporter emphasised.

How to be elected to the local councils? During its news segment, state TV went on to explain the three ways how one can become a candidate in the upcoming elections. It can happen either through a political party or labour collectives. Alternately, one can become a candidate through the collection of signatures by a group of independent initiators, composed from 3 to 10 people.

The head of state gets a report on the work of the Belarusian police. Lukashenka met with Ihar Shunievich, the head of Ministry of Internal Affairs. State TV noted that he was happy with the report and praised a work of the Belarusian police.

The reporter mentioned the achievements of the ministry, such as a decrease in the crime rate, with nearly 1,200 fewer offences occurring in 2013 than in 2012. The militia have also registered fewer cases of speeding.

Economy

Will the Belarus-Chinese 'Geely' car become a hit? Strategic partnership between Minsk and Beijing continues according to plan, state TV reports. The head of state met with Prime Minister Michail Miasnikovich and Semen Shapiro, Governor of the Minsk Region, to discuss one of the joint Belarus-Chinese projects the 'Geely' automobile. In the opinion of the journalist, production of cars remains one of the most promising projects and should bring tangible benefits to Belarus.

The head of state wants to make the joint Belarusian-Chinese project an internationally recognised brand. Within 5 years production of the automobile should raise to around 120 thousand annually. In the words of Lukashenka, building automobiles is among the most prized dreams of many Belarusians.

Improvements in housing? Recently improvements in housing construction in Belarus has been high priority for officials. The head of the head of the state's administration, Andrej Kabjakou, went on a trip to learn precisely how housing was being built in Barisau. The state TV report showed a house which had been under construction since 2011, with no concrete date for its completion set at this time. Kabjakau was informed about sources of financing for the housing's construction and the degree to which the housing had been completed.

2013 was a critical year in the housing industry in Belarus. On another occasion, state television continued covering issues facing housing. “The head of state gave his word to ordinary Belarusians that things will all be set straight”, journalist proudly stressed in their coverage of the issue. “These are actions coupled with words”, she commented.

Thank to a series of improvements in the legislation and construction management, initiated by the head of state, the industry should now function more efficiently. Another serious achievement in regard to solving the housing problem was a decree signed by Lukashenka.

International Affairs

No stability in the aftermath the Arab Spring. In a less than a minute of coverage, Channel 1 reported on the unstable situation in the Arabic world. They briefly mentioned that the third anniversary of the revolution Tunisia was commemorated with a demonstration against the authorities.

“Its participants state that they do not feel any improvement since the revolution in 2011”, the journalist alarmingly noted. She explained that a wave of upheavals led to serious changes in power in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Morocco. “All of these countries have not only lost their stability, but also their brand as a place that is attractive to tourists”, she continues. These events have significantly weakened their respective economies.

Syria is also affected the ongoing internal armed conflict between the authorities and rebels. Bashar Assad, together with the international community, are trying to preserve hope that they will be able to re-establish the previous level of stability enjoyed in the country.

Vilnius has approved its transition to the Eurozone, In the spring time a bill on joining the other countries who use the euro as their currency will be headed to the Lithuanian parliament. If approved by parliament, the country could introduce a new currency as soon as January 2015. State TV noted that recently Latvia joined the eurozone. Its citizens, however, are unhappy primarily due to an increase in prices the state TV channel argued.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials available on the web site of Belarusian State Television 1 (BT1). Freedom of the press in Belarus remains restricted and state media convey primarily the point of view of the Belarusian authorities. This review attempts to give the English-speaking audience a better understanding of how Belarusian state media shape public opinion in the country.

Paula Borowska is an analyst of the Ostrogorski Centre. Originally from Bialystok, she studied at the University of Gdansk and the University of Bologna.

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