Most Read Articles on Belarus Digest in 2014

In 2014 Belarus Digest published over 250 articles. Below we listed top ten most viewed articles published this year. Top three articles deal with Ukraine. Interestingly, the fourth article correctly predicted the currency crises which Belarus is facing now.

1. Belarus Refuses To Support Russia's Invasion of Ukraine. ​Belarus Refuses To Support Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine. At a meeting of presidents of the Customs Union on 5 March, Putin desperately tried to gain support on for Russia's invasion of Ukraine from his closest allies, Belarus and Kazakstan. All his efforts, it would seem, appear to be in vain, as neither Lukashenka nor Nazarbaev publicly voiced support for Russia's aggression in Crimea. For both individuals, it became a dangerous precedent which showed the true nature of Russian politics in the post-Soviet space.

2. By Winning Crimea, Russia Can Lose Belarus. On 7 March, Ukrainian espreso.tv reported that Belarus refused to send observers to the Crimean referendum. This is not the first time that the Belarusian authorities have disobeyed Russia, because the interests of Minsk and Moscow are in opposition to one another on several key issues. Lukashenka will not support the precedent set by the Kremlin’s invasion of other countries in the name of protecting the interests of its Russian-speaking people. The Belarusian authorities seem reluctant to lose credibility in the eyes of its Baltic neighbours, their main advocates in the West.

3. A Split In The Eurasian Union: Belarus Refuses To Join Russia's Trade War With Ukraine​. While Ukraine was preparing to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, Russia was trying to secure the support of Belarus and Kazakhstan in introducing protective measures against Ukrainian goods. Moscow failed to convince its Eurasian partners that Kyiv’s Association Agreement would pose a threat to their economies and had to resort to taking unilateral action for raising customs duties on goods from Ukraine.

4. What To Expect In 2014? - Digest of Belarus Economy. The year 2013 will probably go into the economic history of Belarus as a year when even the government officials acknowledged that the economy was stagnating, and there were no prospects for any quick economic growth in the years to come.The official economic forecast for 2014 contains a modest GDP growth number of 3.3% (compared with 8.5% forecast for 2013), the Belarusian ruble will continue to be devalued (the only question now is how quickly) and despite the promises of Russian loans, Belarus faces the possibility of a 2011-like currency crisis.

5. Why Minsk Is Not Like Other Capitals. It jumps out at you right after you come back from a foreign land: Minsk is not like Vilnius, Warsaw or Prague. Indeed, it is not like anywhere else. And obviously, this concerns not only its "deserted streets" or the perception that there are "a lot of police." At least, it's not all that simple. Let's try and deduce the reasons that make our favourite city exceptional.

6. New UK Visa Procedures Humiliate Belarusians. On 13 June the Visa Section of the British Embassy in Belarus stopped accepting visa applications. A private company Teleperformance Ltd has now assumed responsibility for processing them. This move follows last year's decision by the UK government to close its visa section in Minsk and transfer its functions to Moscow. So far this decision has turned the visa application procedure into chaos and humiliation for visa applicants from Belarus.

7. The Russian Air Force Base In Belarus: Getting The Facts Straight. Last week Chief of the Russian Air Force Viktor Bondarev announced that a Russian airbase would be established in Babruysk in 2016. An article from the Moscow Times on expanding the Russian air force presence abroad, subsequently reprinted in the Guardian, painted a rather dramatic, yet not entirely correct picture. Analysis of recent news on the Russian base in Belarus paints a slightly different picture. Minsk and Moscow gave up plans to put Russian fighter jets next door to NATO member states. Russia will get only one base in Babruysk, and later than it had originally planned.

8. Belarus Bans St. George's Ribbons At V-Day Celebrations. On the May 9th most post-Soviet countries, including Belarus, celebrate Victory Day to commemorate World War II. But unlike in previous years, this time around before May 9th state organisations in Belarus received an unexpected order - replace all V-Day decorations containing the St. George’s ribbon. Originally a Russian Empire military decoration, it was used during World War II in a modified form and since that time all former Soviet Union republics have widely used the symbol in their annual celebrations of Victory Day. However, after the separatist actions in Ukraine, where militants use the ribbon as their identifying colours, it has acquired a negative meaning and became associated with Russian imperialism.

9. Russian Nuclear Weapons In Belarus, An Anti-Nato Military Bloc - Belarus Security Digest. The Kremlin pulls together an anti-NATO bloc. Minsk is trying to be helpful to the West as a source of information about the Kremlin's plan towards Ukraine insofar as Vladimir Putin allows them to. The Russian elite is overtaken by chauvinism and are increasingly losing touch with reality. Belarus and Russia will jointly explore space. The number of those who want to serve in uniform in Belarus is declining steadily. China becomes Belarus' No. 2 military and industrial complex partner.

10. Life In A Belarusian Village - Belarus Photo Digest. Belarus Digest is launching a new series, Belarus Photo Digest, which shows images of different aspects of life in today's Belarus. In the first issue photographer Siarhiej Leskiec documents everyday life in the Belarusian countryside. Only one in four Belarusians lives in rural areas today. And yet, most Belarusians are first-generation city dwellers. This is all the more interesting when considering the fact that only half a century ago, more than two-thirds of the population still lived in villages.

Yarik Kryvoi is the editor-in-chief of Belarus Digest and the founder of the Ostrogorski Centre.

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