Corruption, Cooling Relations with Russia, CSR - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Over the last weeks analysts covered a range of issues from corporate social responsibility to human rights. Belarus and Russia now undergo the period of cooling, the economy is deteriorating and the authorities are trying to implement reforms.

Belarus scores relatively well on corruption perception compared to Russia and Ukraine but still remains a not free country according to international experts. This and more in this Digest of Belarusian analytics.

Five Years of Corporate Social Responsibility in Belarus – Pact analyses Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) development in Belarus over the last 5 years. Five years ago, CSR was a virtually unknown concept in Belarus. Today, civic events such as Artist and the City and Jazz or Classic Music in the City have mobilised millions, raised private funds and made Minsk’s public spaces more vibrant, diverse and European. The organiser of the mentioned events is Fond of Ideas, established with the assistance of Pact via its USAID supported BRAMA program.
 
Capacity of Youth Non-Governmental Organisations and Initiative Groups for Cooperation in Addressing Common Objectives – The sector of youth NGOs is not the largest by the number of organisations, but pretty large by the number of participants; young people are not deeply involved in the activity of youth organisations, according to the fresh study commissioned by the Office for European Expertise and Communication (OEEC). The research was carried out by the Centre for European Transformation (CET) and presented on 19 January in Minsk.
 

Politics and human rights

Semi-annual BISS-Trends (July-December 2015) issue – The new issue of BISS-Trends focuses on the main trends in political democratisation; economic liberalisation; good governance and rule of law; geopolitical orientation; and cultural policy. In particular, the field of politics in the second half of 2015 was marked by progress, while the economy was characterised by the deterioration of the main macroeconomic indicators, accumulation and aggravation of old challenges.
 
Human Rights Situation in Belarus: January 2016 – Human Rights Centre Viasna released its monthly monitoring that indicates that in January, there were no changes that would have demonstrated the Belarusian authorities’ will to reform the country’s human rights situation. The month was marked by certain negative trends in comparison with the last three months of 2015. In particular, the authorities resumed the practise of administrative harassment of freelance journalists working with foreign media.
 
OSCE/ODIHR released its final report on Belarus' October 2015 presidential elections. The report indicates that Belarus still has a considerable way to go in meeting its OSCE commitments for democratic elections. Chairperson of the Central Election Commission Lidia Yermoshina is satisfied with OSCE report and considers it constructive. The report was discussed at the meeting on 29 January of MFA Head Vladimir Makei with delegation of the OSCE/ODIHR and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
 
Situation in the Field of National Security and Defense (December 2015) – Belarus Security Blog has released its monthly national security monitoring. Namely, the experts conclude that it is obvious that Belarus and Russia have the period of cooling of the so far not excellent relations due to several reasons: the regional security situation, the position of Belarus on Ukraine and the refusal of the official Minsk from the earlier informal arrangements to expand the Russian military presence in the country.
 
Belarus Foreign Policy Index #29 (November-December 2015)BISS presents its regular issue of Belarus Foreign Policy Index, which examines Belarus’s foreign policy in the five key dimensions. In relations with Russia, Belarus has managed to not only get involved in Russia's foreign policy conflicts, but also to strengthen its neutral position. Relations with the EU continued to develop within the trend of normalisation. Relations with Ukraine were overshadowed by the problems in bilateral trade, which, however, were soon resolved.
 

Reforms Review

KEF Newsletter. January 2016 – IPM Research Centre and KEF partners have released the 2nd newsletter with an overview of developments over the past month and publications. The issue includes monitoring of economic transformation and dialogue on reforms. It also refers to a new project of the webportal TUT.BY The Practice of Reforms, series of materials about the possibilities of structural reforms in Belarus.
 
There is no need to change the economic policy pursued by the government, Alexander Lukashenka said on 26 January in Minsk, speaking at a government meeting on the current economic developments. "I cannot agree to breaking anything, putting excessive pressure on people, which would yield no result. I am unalterably opposed to this."
 
New law 'On Corruption'. The new law has been in development for almost two years and entered into force on 24 January 2016. The changes include withdrawal of the pension for bribe, property declaration for the children of officials, no more punishment for small things, creation of an institute of public control over corruption, etc.
 
Report On the Monitoring Of Belarus Roadmap For Higher Education Reform Implementation – The Ad Hoc Commission of the EaP CSF Belarusian National Platform prepared the first report on the incorporation of the EHEA principles into the Belarus higher education system for the period from June 2015 till December 2015. The report indicates that the steps taken in implementing the EHEA principles do not come together with the process of increasing the openness and transparency of the Belarus higher education system.
 

Belarus in International Rankings

Belarus takes 107th place in Corruption Perceptions Index 2015. Based on expert opinion, the Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 168 countries. In comparison with 2014, Belarus improved its ranking by 11 positions and ahead of Russia (119 place) and Ukraine (130 place).
 
Freedom in the World report 2016: Belarus is ranked as “Not Free” country. The worst situation is related to political rights. Published by Freedom House, the report notes that Lukashenka’s “gestures toward the West seem motivated by growing fears of Russian bellicosity and economic weakness".
 

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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