Half of Belarusians Earn Less than $500 a Month - Belarus Civil Society Digest

Image: ex-mayor of Kaunas

Why is a controversial ex-mayor of Kaunas considering Belarus seeking political asylum? The Centre of Legal Transformation appeals for a public hearing on the legislative project "On Alternative Military Service".

The National Statistical Committee of Belarus (Belstat) has recently revealed that half of Belarusians earn less than US$500 a month. For the first time Hrodna Medical University is offering its students to study in Belarusian. How many students will decide to use this opportunity? “Levada Centre” checks out how the attitudes of Russians towards Belarus have changed over the past years. It shows that 88% of Russians have a positive attitude towards Belarusians – the highest rating in 10 years.

Ex-mayor of Kaunas is seeking asylum in Belarus: According to Lithuanian media, after being detained by the police on July 27 for disorderly conduct during a sex-minority parade in Vilnius, Vitautas Shustauksas is looking at ways to find asylum in Belarus to avoid being persecuted by the police “for minor misconduct”.  

Lawtrend addresses the Government of Belarus to hold a public hearing on the “Alternative military service” bill: The Centre of Legal Transformation has appealed to the chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus Vladimir Andreychenko, as well as to the heads of the parliamentary committees with the requirement to "declassify" the legislative project "On Alternative Service", which is to be introduced to the Parliament in October. According to Lawtrend, the bill is classified as “for internal use only”, which means it may not be discussed with any other interested parties.

15 European Parliamentary deputies are demanding from Minsk to release political prisoners: Fifteen deputies from the European Parliament, Germany and Switzerland have addressed a collective request to GOB regarding the human rights situation in Belarus with a demand to “immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, as well as a impose a moratorium on the death penalty in Belarus”.

Capacity Building Marketplace announces the second NGO Capacity Building Fair: The Fair is to take place on 1 November 2013 in Minsk. The event is aimed to represent the Belarusian market of organisational development services, as well as gather CSO’s from all regions of Belarus in one place. The deadline for the submission of applications from consultants is August 12, 2013.

Antimak on light drug abuse among youth: Aleksandr Shpakouski from the AntiMak campaign, along with other actors in the field, gave an interview to SB.by on the issues of "light" drug abuse among youth in Belarus. The experts discussed the level of popularity of smoking mixtures among students, the easiness of legalization of light drugs, the dealers’ business models, the values of youth today and measures to be taken to prevent and fight drug abuse in Belarus.  

Gomel Democratic Forum has been officially been registered: The regional development centre “Gomel Democracy Forum” has obtained official state registration on August 1, 2013. The goals of the new organisation includes providing non-commercial informational and consulting services, support for citizens in the spheres of education, business, culture, civic activity, as well as the facilitation of economic and socio-cultural development of Belarusian regions.

“Green Schools” program has been included into extracurricular activities for Belarusian students: The program has been approved by the Ministries of Education and Natural Resources of Belarus as part of the Republican eco-educational project within the framework of a larger UN cooperation program. The program is aimed at filling the gaps in children’s knowledge about the nature and ecological problems of Belarus, as well as encouraging the proactive position of children, their parents and teachers in solving them.

Some Interesting Statistics 

Hrodna Medical University offered its students the chance to study in BelarusianSo far, only 6 out of 440 first-year students have agreed to study in their native language. According to the university, whether there will be a Belarusian-language group or not, will only be known by the end of August. But as of now, most of the students and their parents have not taken up the proposal to study in Belarusian.

Public opinion survey: Russians’ attitudes towards Belarus have improvedRussian independent research organisation “Levada Centre” has surveyed Russians on the subject of their attitudes towards different countries of the world. According to the survey results, 88% of Russians maintain a positive attitude towards Belarus (which is the highest rating it is had since 2003, when it was at 90%) against 7% who think of Belarus negatively. The “champion” of negative attitude of “the Northern neighbors” is the USA – 36% (as opposed to 43% positive), while the European Union in perceived negatively by 24% of Russians (against 64% of positive attitudes). The news gained nearly 2,000 comments on TUT.by.

Most Belarusians are satisfied with the quality of their healthcare services. The media has reported that Belstat published survey results, which suggest that 62.4% of Belarusians are more or less satisfied with the public healthcare services, while 88% are more or less satisfied with private healthcare. Last year, 77.8% of Belarusians were satisfied with public healthcare. According to Belstat’s findings, the number of dissatisfied citizens is close to the statistical error – 2.6%. Notably, private medicine is favoured more by lower-income citizens.

Belstat: half of Belarusians earn less than $500: Official data published by Belarus Statistics Committee reveals that 48% of Belarusians earn less than country’s average salary of $500. Notably, half of those who earn over $500 monthly, live in Minsk.

Where do Belarusian immigrants wend their way in Russia? Internet-newspaper “Zautra.by” has analysed Russian Federal “Demographic yearbook 2012” and found out the most popular destinations for Belarusian immigrants in Russia. The largest increase in immigrants from Belarus was registered in the Smolensk and Tyumen regions. Moscow and St. Petersburg are in the top 5.

The Institute of the Ministry of Economics suggests switching from directive planning to indicative targeting for government-owned enterprisesThis idea has been voiced by the vice-director of the Ministry of Economics Research Studies Institute Viktor Pinigin. According to Mr. Pinigin, the weak side of directive planning is its “lack of real economic mechanisms for stimulating enterprises to meet the directive targets”. The Ministry representatives believe that indicative planning will provide for better performance of the manufacturers, since it will determine their income. In the meantime, economists note that this is not the first attempt to switch to indicative economic planning – the first attempt to adopt relevant draft law was failed in 2011.

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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