Lukashenka's Rating on the Rise, Counting Political Prisoners - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

IISEPS published the latest national opinion poll results. Alexander Lukashenka’s rating is on the rise. The Liberal Club takes a closer look at the public administration reforms. Jana Kobzova notes that the discrepancy in a number of political prisoners in Belarus might be a practical problem for EU policymakers. 

Results of the National Opinion Poll. June, 2013 - A national survey conducted in June 2013 by Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS), shows that the image of the state as the chief spokesman of the people's interests becomes more and more "dim". However, these sentiments are not directly transferred to the president. Increasing the "economic well-being" in the second quarter of the year has had a positive impact on the attitude to the president - his electoral rating continues to gradually rise: in December 2012, 31.5% respondents were ready to vote for him, in March - 33.4%; now, in June - 37.3%.

What Eastern Europeans Think about the Democratic Transition: Understanding Values and Attitudes – The paper describes current trends based on available public opinion polls in four Eastern European countries (Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) in order to provide deeper analysis of the transition process taking place in these countries.  It argues that democratic transition in post-Soviet countries should not be viewed only in terms of changes in the political elite, but also in terms of changes in the attitudes of its citizens.

Belarus and the Eurasian Union: Incremental Integration – In a policy brief by Balázs Jarábik, Alexei Pikulik and Andrei Yeliseyeu examines the new integration process which reflects Moscow’s efforts to create a supranational regulatory framework inspired by the EU. However, many obstacles prevail. Belarus, for example, has no interest in pressing for a full-fledged Eurasian Union unless it is on its own terms. While Central Europe and the Baltic states were willing to pay the price of hard reforms to achieve their European dream, Belarus wishes to get paid for Eurasian integration.

Counting Belarus’ Political Prisoners – Jana Kobzova gives some attention to the difference in numbers of political prisoners: 9 such people on EEAS' list; 11 – in Human Rights Centre Viasna list; 5 prisoners of conscience are named in the recent Amnesty International annual report; and 13 political are mentioned by Belarusian news portal Charter97. The expert notes that such a difference in numbers is not just confusing – it might also become a practical problem for European policymakers.

How to Arrange Belarus. A Square with Love – Ina Romashevskaya of research project in public administration BIPART comments on the meeting of Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich with the Minsk authorities on the issue of improvement of the capital. The expert believes that the state - in this case, the city authorities - should and can transform its urban space, making it attractive, safe and fun for everyone. Respectively, the government should ask the citizens' opinion in order to understand what a "cosy" and "attractive" urban space means for them. 

Public Administration Reform: Policy Documents vs. Presidential Decree – Nikita Belyaev, of the Liberal Club, presented a policy brief on the analysis of the Program of Social and Economic development of Belarus for 2011-2015 and the relevant presidential decrees. One of the findings of the research claims that some decisions taken in the framework of public administration contradict the objectives set out in the policy documents; at the same the presidential decrees have much greater practical force.

Belarusian Mobilization as an External Factor - Alexei Gajdukevich, the project "Cytadel", talks about the purposes and methods of mobilization of Belarusian society. He believes that integration into global processes with positive internal consolidation and protection of the physical, moral and spiritual dangers can become a significant factor for the Belarusian state in foreign policy. In contrast to the decline of Western civilization, the expert sees some positive processes in Belarus, which may lead to more opportunities for Belarusian expansion in the world.

Economy on the Fingers - a regular program of TV TUT.by discusses the strike of entrepreneurs, the introduction of "platinum action" and the legal side of unloading warehouses. The experts of the program - the economist Sergei Chaly and the lawyer Maxim Znak - come to ambiguous conclusions, in particular, that individual entrepreneurs are at a dead end in the evolution of corporate law. Also, Gazeta.ru identifies the main feature of the current protests, namely, for the first time Belarusian entrepreneurs have put forward political demands and starting to collect signatures for the exit of Belarus from the Customs Union.

The State Needs Young Experts. But Why? – this week TV TUT.by program “Amplituda” is dedicated to young people's participation in analytics and the state demand for young intellectuals. The invited experts - Alexei Matsevilo, Information Analysis Centre under the Administration of President; Yauheni Preiherman, of the Liberal Club NGO; and Alexander Shpakovsky, of project "Cytadel"  - discuss the challenges and guarantees that the project would not become analytical support to add to the legitimacy of government decisions already made.

LGBT Topic in Belarusian Media – Mediakritika.by analyses the results of the annual Report on coverage of LGBT issues in Belarusian media. In particular, monthly Belarusian media publishes about 1.6 related articles; about 61% of the materials contain a neutral evaluation, about 26% - positive, and 12% - negative. It is noteworthy that the state-run media are showing a more aggressive approach in covering the LGBT topic while independent editions demonstrate neutral or positive modality.

Victor Martinovich: Belarusians are an Absolutely Tolerant, but Cowardly People – What is exactly is Belarusian tolerance and is it objective? Whom and why do Belarusians like or not like ? Is it possible to love others if you do not love yourself? What is more healthy, "give a face" or to keep yourself? Why is the issue of homophobia relevant? Journalist and writer Victor Martinovich answers these questions under the campaign “Budzma!” project "Culture Improves Life!" 

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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