Diplomatic Scandal and Why Political Prisoners Are Not Released - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Dmitry Karpievich

Diplomatic scandal with the European Union, political prisoners and economic sanctions remain in the focus of attention of Belarusian analysts. Other topics include the effect of Putin's election as president in Russia, the state of the legal profession in Belarus, and a review of human rights violations in February 2012. 

Why doesn't Lukashenka Release Political Prisoners? – The Warsaw-based Solidarity with Belarus Information Office's analysts note that “the release of political prisoners in exchange for ending of the conflict with the EU is perceived by Minsk as a very bad deal”. Firstly, it brings no economic benefits for the country. Secondly, the Belarusian elite, raised by Alexander Lukashenka, will certainly perceive such a move as a weakness of the President. 

“And the Winner Is…”: Belarus and European Union Recall Each Other’s Ambassadors – Vladimir Socor considers that “the mutual recall of ambassadors deepens the gulf between the EU and its immediate neighbour in Central Europe, Belarus. It is a gift of unexpected magnitude to Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian bloc-building strategy.” He concludes that unless the situation deescalates, the Kremlin will be the main beneficiary of the diplomatic scandal between Belarus and the European Union.  

Deadline for Lukashenka, or why the European Ambassadors Left – Andrei Eliseev analyses the development of the current diplomatic conflict between the EU and Belarus, as well as the history of the withdrawal of ambassadors in previous periods. The expert believes that "the EU will continue to insist on their position: first, the release of political prisoners - and then resuming fully-fledged dialogue and a partial freeze of sanctions".

If the EU Sanctions Work: an Analysis of the Arguments – Andrei Eliseev describes the history of relations between the EU with Belarus and shows that EU sanctions have consistently worked well - either fully or partially. The expert examines the arguments of opponents of sanctions and concludes that "the EU sanctions in the Belarusian case may not be as unjustifiable, dangerous and hopeless as it seems to their critics".

Trying to Live with Lukashenka – The Economist recounts the meeting of a group of Belarusian political scholars and civil-society activists with representatives of the Polish foreign ministry and the embassies of the US, Canada and several EU members (5 March, Warsaw). The Economist notes that while many Belarusian activists were calling for the EU to ditch confrontation in favour of support for civil society, several European officials ruled out any changes in their visa policy.

Dmitry Karpievich: "Belarusians are Interested in what's Happening in the EU" – Chairman of the Education Center POST Dmitry Karpievich in his interview for Novaya Europa discusses whether there is interest in a  European theme among teachers and pupils, as well as what issues civil educators face in solving the complex "European problem" in Belarusian conditions. The theme of European integration and the way of life attracts considerable interest in Belarus, but there are many barriers which prevent Belarusians from getting information about the European Union without stereotypes.

Results of Elections in Russia: Implications for Belarus – George Plaschinsky notes that the election of Putin means further integration of Belarus in the format of the Common Economic Space. Russia's membership in the WTO is likely to contribute to "forced modernization" of the Belarusian economy. Russia is likely to continue subsidising the Belarusian economy but will be more assertive in seeking more in return, particularly privatisation of state property. 

Analytical Review: February 2012 – The Belarus National Security Blog has released its regular analytical review for February 2012. The authors note that the events of February will largely be of decisive importance for the further development of Belarus. In particular, in the country signs of degradation of the state mechanism have been clearly delineated for the first time, and the diplomatic conflict with the West will have far-reaching consequences, not only in politics but also in finance. 

Analytical Review: Lawyers in Belarus  – The Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus has prepared an analytical review titled The situation of lawyers in Belarus after the presidential election of 19 December 2010. The document is a compilation of facts and systematic analysis of the situation, for the period of 19 December 2010 - 19 December 2011. The document was prepared with the assistance of the Legal Transformation Centre, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the human rights centre Viasna.

February Chronicle of Human Rights Violations. The human rights centre Viasna issued a detailed Review Chronicle of Human Rights Violations in Belarus in February 2012. The human rights activists pay attention to the lack of positive developments in the field of human rights, especially the unresolved issue of political prisoners. Other problems include the use of the death penalty, arbitrary detentions, pressure on human rights activists and journalists. 

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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