The Paper-Based Eurasian Union - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Belarusian analysts discuss new integration initiatives in the post-Soviet Space and the promise of Europe's Eastern Partnership. Other topics include Mink Gay Pride 2011, the profile of an average internet user in Belarus and the effect of proposed legislation amendments targeting NGOs and foreign aid. 

The paper-based Eurasian Union. Andrei Fyodarau analyzes Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka's  recent articles on the creation of the Eurasian Union. Fyodarau thinks that at the basis of the Eurasian Union initative is the Russian imperial idea of "collecting the lands." Alexander Lukashenka also understands it. In his publication Lukashenka keeps returning to the idea that "only equality of partners, including the equality of economic conditions with equal access to a common energy and transport system, will create a solid foundation for our union". Fyodarau questions the economic viability of the Eurasian Union idea.  

Summit of the Eastern Partnership and Belarus: Nothing for Nothing Aalyst Dzianis Melyantsou thinks that the Eastern Partnership fails to offer the stimuli necessary for the Belarusian authorities to embark upon reforms. The financial and other possibilities of the EaP remain very much limited. He thinks that there is little chance Belarus will withdraw from the Eastern Partnership because of the potential significance of Minsk’s engagement in the partnership program with the European Union and the need to counterweigh pressures from Moscow.

Belarusian opposition is to be cooked like a frog. Political columnist Pavlyuk Bykovsky and human rights defender Vladimir Labkovich comment on the recent amendments to the legislation. Bykovsky is inclined to not overstate the real effect of the "anti-revolutionary package", since much of the amendment follows the existing rules. According to Labkovich, the situation is fraught as it marks the final reduction of political alternatives and the transition of civil society structures into an underground dissident movement.

Olga Smolianko: freedom of association depends on the will of stateA lawyer and expert in the field of freedom of association, Director of the Legal Transformation Center Olga Smolianko reflects on the problems existing in the registration system for public associations. The process of establishment and registration in very difficult in practice and often differs from the law in the books.  Belarusian legislation imposes criminal liability for organizing and participating in the activities of unregistered organizations. Although the authorities rarely invoke this article, many activists and initiatives are under constant threat of criminal prosecution. Even registration of an organization abroad is not an absolute defense against it. 

Who uses the Internet in Belarus? The European Radio for Belarus along with Mikhail Doroshevich, Head of Gemius-Belarus, have composed a portrait of a Belarusian internet user. 33% of Belarusian internet users live in Minsk. The most active group are users of 25-34 years (28%), who make up 34% of all views and spend 33% of their time on the web. The most popular websites in Belarus include portal tut.by and social networks vkontakte.ru and odnoklassniki.ru. 

Vyacheaslau Bortnik: Will Belarusian authorities love gays?  Human rights activist Vyacheslav Bortnik analyzes recent remarks by Lukashenka and the political situation, and concludes that the authorities will not ban the scheduled "Minsk Gay Pride 2011" march on 22 October. Bortnik thinks that the Belarusian authorities are less homophobic than the Belarusian opposition and that allowing a gay parade in Minsk would be the best present for German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. 

 

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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