Dealing with Alcohol Abuse, Cycling in Minsk, REFORUM - Belarus Civil Society Digest

Food for Thought Business Breakfast

Movement For Freedom invites to a summer school programme entitled 'Belarusian idea and the ways of national consolidation'.

The New Eurasia Establishment held in Minsk a USAID-supported workshop Financial Management for Non-profits for directors, finance and program managers from civil society organisations.

A senior government official met with opposition activists to discuss problems of alcohol abuse.

Interaction between state and civil society

First deputy prime minister meets with opposition activists campaigning against alcohol abuse. First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka met with activists of the Belarusian Christian Democrats (BCD) campaigning against alcohol abuse. The government has demonstrated its readiness to take the public's proposals against the 'alcoholisation' of society into account, said the BCD press office.

Belarusian Language Society asks for Belarusian language to be used again in legal acts. The Belarusian Language Society (BLS) has appealed to the House of Representatives with a proposal to return the Belarusian language to national legislation. In fact, at present almost all the laws in the country are adopted only in Russian.

Events

REFORUM project completed the preparatory phase. The project, implemented by the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), over the next two years will offer 16 reform proposals, a dialogue between various stakeholders, including the opposition, authorities, experts and business. For the first six months the project has established relations with stakeholders, created a Council for the project and conducted a study to identify the attitude of Belarusians (society and civil society) to reform.

Food for Thought - 4. On 8 July at the Minsk café, Fond of Ideas held its fourth business breakfast in the series Food for Ideas. The theme of the breakfast was the policy of forming a strategy for social marketing. For the first time together with the businessmen representatives of Belarusian NGOs working with social projects attended the breakfast. The event took place as a part of a project to raise awareness about CSR in Belarus.

Information Day on European opportunities and gender equality. On 17-18 July the Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels) and the Office for European Expertise and Communication (Minsk) invite interested parties to information sessions in Brest and Hrodna. CSOs' activists will learn step-by-step how to prepare successful projects, get to know about available EU support mechanisms as well as learn about the incorporation of European values and cross-cutting issues (gender) into their project proposals and during the implementation of their projects. The event is being organised under the Clearing House project.

Round table on public administration. The civil campaign Tell the Truth conducted a regular round table on the issues of the efficiency of public administration, the prospects for reforming the power vertical and the need for modernisation. According to the invited politicians and experts, the modern system of the state decision making and implementing is closed of from public control and is not in line with Constitution. BIPART analyst Natalia Ryabova noted that one of the main problems facing public administration is a low level of training and retraining.

Civil society initiatives

Belarusian Christian Democracy party (BCD) initiates a Minsk Forum of NGOs and civic initiatives. The Forum aims to solve the local problems of the Minsk citizens; among priorities are the elaboration of alternative plans for Minsk's development; coordination of Minsk civil and social initiatives; conducting campaigns to address actual local issues; civil control over the city authorities, etc. Journalists, however, doubt in the potential sucess of the new initiative and have stated that this is merely a way for BCD to try to expand its electorate.

CityDog.by launches a joint project with the Institute Strelka. Every week, the Minsk city online magazine CityDog.by will publish articles created by students and graduates of the Institute for Media, Architecture and Design Strelka (Russia). Architects, urbanists, sociologists will share knowledge how to study and improve the urban environment; the articles are designed to teach and motivate the readers of CityDog.by to improve the environment of Belarusian cities.

I Bike Minsk. From 10 July to 24 August a campaign I Bike Minsk will be held in Minsk and include about 20 different activities - workshops, street actions, lessons on how to ride a bike, bike tours and trips. Additionally, 60 bikes will be available to rent. According to the belngo.info

Education

New Eurasia held training on financial management. On 8-9 July the New Eurasia Establishment held a workshop entitled Financial Management for Non-profits for directors, finance and program managers from civil society organisations. The event was organised in the framework of the USAID-supported Capacity Building for Civil Society Organisations project. Participants had the unique opportunity to learn about the specifics and professional secrets of financial management in non-profits.

School to study Belarusian identity. Movement For Freedom invites individuals to participate to a School 'Belarusian idea and the ways of national consolidation'. The School will be held from 24-29 August with the participation of well-known Belarusian experts, public figures and politicians. The School aims to consider the potential and opportunities for the consolidation of Belarusians in light of the new threats and challenges facing Belarus. Participation is open to Belarusians 18-30 years of age that are active in social and/or political sphere.

E-Teacher Scholarship Program. The U.S. Embassy in Minsk announces a call for applications from teacher trainers, tertiary/secondary teachers of English, and program administrators in Belarus to participate in one of the ten English Teacher Professional Development DISTANCE LEARNING COURSES provided through the University of Oregon. The deadline for submitting applications is 15 July 2014.

International

EU removes eight Belarusians from its blacklist. On 8 July the Council of the European Union lifted entry bans and asset freezes against eight citizens of Belarus and placed one Belarusian on its blacklist. A total of 225 individuals, including Aliaksandr Lukashenka, are currently subject to travel bans and all of them, and 25 economic entities, are subject to asset freezes.

Belarusian Delegation Visit to Brussels. On 8-10 July a delegation from Belarus, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Alena Kupchyna, visited Brussels to take part in a second round of consultations with the European Union on modernisation issues. The delegation included representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Economy.

Call for Proposals: European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The Delegation of the European Union to Belarus is seeking proposals for projects to be implemented in Belarus or projects which would directly benefit Belarusian society with financial assistance from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The deadline for submission of proposals is 2 September 2014.

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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