Tightening the Screws - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Ales Bialiatski

Today a Belarusian court sentenced human rights activist Ales Byalyatski to 4 and a half years in jail for tax evasion. The Belarusian authorities ignored yesterday's joint statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Štefan Füle calling for his release. This verdict is widely believed to be politically motivated.

Over the last two weeks Belarusian analysts have been discussing other new legal developments: the recently established Investigations Committee, the "presumption of guilt" in Belarusian courts and increased legal pressure against NGOs. 

Belarus tightens the screws on legislation -  Lukash Graevsky points out that the Belarusian government uses all possible means at its disposal to disable the work of non-governmental organizations with the reinforcement of legal norms. International organizations are trying to criticize and resist the present state of affairs; however, the new legislative norms seems to be a decisive issue. The author outlines the main infringements implied by the legislation. 

Through a lack of confidence in the courts, people express a lack of confidence in the state -- Human rights activist Elena Tonkacheva discusses the "presumption of guilt" in the Belarusian justice system, reviews the Byalyatski trial, 'terrorists case' and the judicial system in general.

Is the Investigation Committee going to become the most Important security service agency? – Siarhei Satsuk dwells on the growing influence of a newly-created Investigations Committee and speculates about the allegeable redistribution of power in national law-enforcement structures. The author stresses that possible problems may arise due to the Committee'svast range of powers, which should be controlled accordingly.

Nepotism will no longer constitute corruption – Aleksandr Myshin discusses the draft law according to which a technical ban for simultaneous public service of Aliaksandr and Viktar Lukashenka (his son) will be lifted with some amendments specifying the range of family relationships at stock. Previously, the service, which included direct subordination of public servants with a close relationship, was viewed as a serious corruptive violation. Nonetheless, in 2005 Lukashenka's son was appointed deputy of national security.

Will there be guest workers in Belarus? – Qualified people are leaving Belarus because to the economic crisis. Unlike the government experts, analyst Yuri Pshennik believes that people should be allowed to seek work abroad, because it is profitable to the state: people return to live in Belarus and earn money that is also spent in Belarus.

Reforms: Belarus changes to military style – The 2010 presidential candidate who was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic, Ales Michalevych, takes an ironic approach to covering the recent reforms in the country. Economic sluggishness makes the country's leaders resort to law-enforcement and military structures for help. The recent award of major-general ranks to the regional chiefs is a vivid example of such an approach.

Third Sector at the Swedish table – on November 13, Belarusian TV showed the plot, "exposing" the corruption of the domestic opposition. Journalist Dmitry Sergeichik suggests that the plot appeared because of the complete failure in the trial of Ales Byalyatski. The investigation has not been able to provide any way relevant documentary evidence of Byalyatski's guilt. Therefore, the state propaganda is trying to present the third sector as a totally venal and corrupt environment, devoid of any generous goals and in the process of turning into a private illegal business.

The format of discussions on Belarus should be changed – Andrei Hadanovich gives a broad view on Belarusian civil society and its culture, in particular, in an interview during the Cultural Congress of the Eastern Partnership in Lublin. He resorts to cultural renovation as the most appropriate and effective way of re-building and awakening society. Evidently, nowadays poets are more often listened to than politicians.

Belarusian foreign policy index # 4 – BISS presents the fourth edition of the Belarusian foreign policy index, which covers the period September-October 2011 and considers five foreign destinations. The general conclusion is that in isolation from the West, Belarus continues to drift towards Russia and gives in to any concessions necessary to please Moscow. Relations with the EU have not changed. The lack of a Western vector and pressure from Russia has led to some improvements in relations with Ukraine.

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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