Belarusian Civil Society Is Turning into a Sport Society? - Digest of Analytics

In 2012 the majority of all NGOs registered in Belarus were sport-related. State-funded Belarusian Dumka discussed options for political modernization. Belarus is among top countries in EU visas refusal - fresh BISS study reveals.

According to a Belsat study, Belarusians are increasingly willing to donate to historical monuments preservation. Analysts took also a closer look on the Minsk-Brussels relations. Some of the experts notice the Northern Dimension as an instrument for improvement of the relations with the West. 

Society

Belarusian Civil Society is Turning into a Sport Society  – Lawtrend analysed the non-governmental organisations registered in 2012. Of the 111 new NGOs 56 sports organisations were registered, while there was not a single NGO of gender, human rights orientation or promoting democratic reforms. Lawtrend sees this trend as the displacement of a real civil society.

"Shut up, woman! Your Day is March 8"- Tatiana Shchurko refers to the history of celebrating of International Women's Day and finds that the original meaning of the holiday is to fight against discrimination against women, against the social systems, institutions and practises that emphasise gender differences and produce inequality of rights and opportunities. In Belarus, the holiday is used to consolidate the subordinate position of women in the gender hierarchy, strengthen and emphasise gender differences. The expert concludes that that this "holiday" requires substantial changes.

Public Opinion and Hi-Tech Startups in ‘Europe’s Last Dictatorship’ – Grigory Ioffe summarises the comments regarding the recent polls' results and the IT data. In particular, the author reminds that Belarusians believe that the most important aspects of Belarus’s modernization are the development of new technologies and improvement of the infrastructure. In this sense, apparently the hi-tech sector is yet another area where “Europe’s last dictatorship” has been doing something right.

On Slutsk Belts, Palaces and Churches: How Much Belarusians Donate for Monuments? - the Warsaw-based TV channel Belsat studied an issue whether people are willing to pay money for the restoration of historical monuments. The study's results are quite optimistic: so, during a month Br 45 million (about $5,230) were collected for the restoration of the castle in Bykhov; about $120,000 were collected to return Slutsk belts.

Fairytales and Myths About Police – Belarus National Security Blog reacts to recent publications on the announced reform of the Interior Ministry and launches a series of publications to analyse myths, that have been created around Belarusian police. The first publication is dedicated to the discussion of Belarusian interior troops, and whether such militarised police units are used in democratic countries. The author concludes that there is no direct relationship between the type and number of law-enforcement agencies and the level of democracy in a state.

FIDH Comments for EBRD Country Strategy for Belarus - FIDH makes some recommendations on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) draft revised strategy on Belarus. While the EBRD’s proposed strategy stresses the importance of human rights and democracy, FIDH fears that in the present context of severe and recurrent human rights violations the strategy’s failure to address the concrete means by which to secure rights realisation risks rendering such references ineffectual.

Modernization Etudes – editor in chief of a state-run magazine Belaruskaya Dumka, Vadim Gigin considers different ways of political modernization in Belarus. The author outlines the directions of changes: public administration, political parties, non-governmental organisations. The article also addresses the topic of raising the prestige of civil service and reforms of the administrative-territorial division of Belarus.

The Belarus-European Union Relations

Belarus-EU: Reasons for Refusals of Entry to Belarusian Nationals at the External EU Border in 2006-2011 – Andrei Yeliseyeu, BISS, continues studying the visa's topic. This time the expert appeals to the analysis of the denials of entry into the EU to Belarusians in 2006-2011.  By the total number of refusals, Belarus is very high on the list, fifth only to Albania, Ukraine, Russia and Serbia. One of the conclusions is that No valid visa or residence permit and insufficient means of subsistence in relation to the period and form of stay account for about 80% of all refusals of entry to Belarusian nationals.

How Can the Involvement of Belarus in the Northern Dimension Be Used to Improve Relations with the European Union and Poland? - the February PISM Bulletin raises the issue that giving Belarus observer status in the Northern Dimension makes it possible to implement projects in the fields of regional and energy cooperation, and to transfer good practise. Poland should support the wider inclusion of Belarus in the work of the Northern Dimension, which in the long term can contribute to improving Belarusian relations with the EU and its active participation in the Eastern Partnership.

The EU has No One to Talk to in the Dialogue on Belarusian Modernization – Andrei Yahorau, the coordinator of the first working group of the European dialogue on modernization “Political dialogue and political reforms”, Director of the Centre for European transformation, shares the results of the recent meetings in Brussels. In particular, Yahorau notes that one of the main problems for the EU is that the Belarus' state isn’t ready for an adequate dialogue, as well as independent civil structures cannot step out with a common opinion.

Good Cop or Bad Cop? Sanctioning Belarus – Ondrej Ditrych, Briefs, raises the topic of sanctions which seem to have become one of the EU’s weapons of choice to effect change beyond its borders and the case of Belarus testifies in particular to the Union’s ambition to conduct coercive diplomacy. Yet, despite the various steps taken by the EU over the past years, little lasting success has been achieved so far in enforcing meaningful change in Europe’s ‘last dictatorship’.

The Belarusian Opposition

Critical situation for political prisoners in Belarus and freedom for 40 activists considerably restricted – FIDH and Human Rights Center Viasna present an executive summary graphically demonstrating the systematic repression directed at individuals who are serving or have already served sentences for their political or human rights activities. This document was submitted to corresponding UN and OSCE agencies, and other international human rights protection mechanisms.

Klaskovsky: Elections 2015 May Not be the Victory for the Opposition – "but can raise a leader with whom the authorities have to conduct a dialogue ", - Alexander Klaskovsky believes. The political analyst answers the questions of Belarusian Partisan regarding a need for a single presidential candidate of the opposition and opposition's capacity to attract the "new majority".

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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