Do Well-Situated Belarusians Need European Values? - Digest of Belarusian Analytics

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Do well-situated people need European Values? Does the new Russian foreign policy doctrine prompt changes in Minsk to turn to the West? Analysts also examine if there are any pro-Western trends in foreign policy and society.

Belarusian experts discuss whether the Western Partnership has potential and the recent indicators in the economy. Mediakritika’s survey reveals Belsat is not far ahead of state-run channels by international journalism standards.

Society

The Main Character – AuthoritiesMediakritika.by presents a content analysis of three Belarusian TV channels (two state run channels and the Warsaw-based Belsat) for the last six months of 2012. The survey noted that the main newsmaker for both public and independent channels remains the authorities – national or local, while the Belarusian opposition had almost no coverage.

Moreover, all channels were far from meeting basic professional standards – separation of facts from opinion, standards of completeness, and reliability and accuracy of presenting information.

Does Belarusian IT Programmer Need European Values? – Dmitry Galko of the online magazine New Europe discusses why the high income of the IT community does not guarantee the ideological shift to the active rejection of the current political system. The expert believes that satisfaction with personal situation wins out, and highly paid groups prefer to maintain the status quo.

Media in Belarus - 2012. Final Analytical Review – BAJ issued a final report of the media situation in Belarus in 2012. The main conclusion is that the media situation in Belarus during 2012 changed together with the socio-political situation. A critical point of the year was the three criminal cases against journalists in summer 2012.

Oleg Manaev: We Have to Distinguish Serious Sociology from Boloney – on 8 February, Professor Oleg Manaev conducted a public lecture titled The Future of Belarus as a projection of the current under the cycle Urbi et Orbi, the Flying University. On the eve of the lecture, TUT.by journalist talked to Manaev about possible scenarios of the future of Belarus and sociology in Belarus.

Review-Chronicle of Human Rights Violations in Belarus in January 2013  The Human Rights Centre Viasna issued its monthly thematic review. The experts note that the first month of the year brought no changes in the human rights situation. 12 political prisoners remained in jail, and the persecution and pressure on public and political activists, human rights defenders and independent media continued.

Freedom of Associations in Belarus in 2012 – the Assembly of Democratic NGOs and the Legal Transformation Center released the annual review of freedom of associations and the legal status of non-profit organizations in Belarus for 2012. The paper highlights the most important trends and developments related to the legal conditions of different forms of civil society organizations.

Politics

 Integration Is Given a Boost – Grigory Ioffe observes that while Minsk has been recently trying its best to revive its relationships with the West, reciprocal steps have not yet been undertaken by the Western countries and international structures. In contrast, the analyst lists a number of recent success stories which show that Russia has been energetically and conspicuously acting to tighten its bonds with Belarus.

Lukashenka Gave the KGB Special Mission to the West? – Alexander Klaskovsky, naviny.by,  focuses on the foreign policy of Belarus: the Belarusian president again demonstratively shows interest in the Western direction, in that time he had just returned from Sochi, where he waited in vain for over a week, for Vladimir Putin. BISS analyst, Denis Melyantsou believes that in this way Lukashenka again starts to shake geopolitical swings to impress the official Moscow; although PR moves may follow real steps towards unlocking relations with Brussels and Washington.

New Russian Foreign Policy Doctrine – Dzianis MIliantsou, BISS, breaks down the new Russian Foreign Policy Doctrine, signed in February by Vladimir Putin. According to the analyst, Belarus is losing its exclusive status of Russian ally, while the doctrine demonstrates Russia’s willingness for constructive cooperation with the West.

Can the Eastern Partnership Work? – Jana Kobzova notes that the EU has been promoting its interests in Eastern Europe by exporting its values and building more political and business links with the region, but the strategy has thus far not worked to the EU’s liking. To make the Eastern Partnership an initiative worthy of its name, the EU should continue to promote both its interests and values in its Eastern neighbourhood, but it also needs to invest much more in cultivating new partners in the region.

Policy Brief: National Security, January 2013 - Belarus Security Blog issued its monthly review of national security of the country. The authors observe that the first month of the year has not brought significant changes. The previous threats to the sustainability of Belarusian state remain: the poor quality of public administration, human resources crisis in the government, the negative trends of foreign trade, limited funding of national security and defense, etc.

Western Vector of the Belarusian Foreign Policy - Alexander Shpakouski, Analytical Center for Conservative Concepts, observes that since the appointment of Vladimir Makey to a post of the head of foreign policy department there is a noticeable intensification of contacts with the West countries, first of all with the EU and the USA. The expert believes that in such situation pressure and imposing of unilateral understanding are unacceptable, but joint movement in the direction of creation social and fair, democratic world way is necessary.

A Potential Rapprochement with the West and the Prospects of Economic Liberalization – Grigory Ioffe notes that Belarus’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has generated a flurry of activity on the country’s western flank. Reviewing the recent trends, the expert cautions that there is still a great deal of harmony between Belarus’s political regime and many ordinary Belarusians. Western attempts to base its relationships with post-Soviet countries on a putative community of values have apparently exhausted their potential.

Economy

On the Fantastic Figures of Labor Migration – Andrei Eliseev of BISS, questions whether the number of Belarusian migrants of 1,3 million people, voiced by some experts, is realistic. Using simple math and available official statistics data, Eliseev shows exaggeration of these numbers and promises to devote his next paper to the issue of real numbers of Belarusian labor migrants. The article is posted in the section Blogs analysts on the updated BISS website.

Economicus Obcuricus: Economic Results of Belarus in 2012 – Anton Boltochko, Liberal Club, analyzes the economic policy of Belarus in 2012 with the ranking of economic victories and defeats. The expert says that every victory allowed maintaining the relative stability of the entire system. In particular, euphoria, caused by exports of solvents / thinners / biofuels, prevented the officials to focus on reforming the economic system after the crisis 2011.

Belarusian Monthly Economic Review, February 2013 – the IPM Research Center has released February issue of its monthly review which covers recent developments in political and economic life of the country. Namely in January, Belarusian Potash Company – an exclusive distributor of Belaruskali and Uralkali – signed a new contract on supply of 1 m tones of potash fertilizers at a price of 400 USD/t to China. This is 70 USD/t lower than a price of a previous contract with China. In general, this event might stipulate a number of negative outcomes.

Lessons From the 2011 Belarusian Devaluation – The paper shows that the currency crisis and inflation of 2011 rapidly decreased the level of well-being of the Belarusian society. The state tried to cushion the crisis effects but their policies had a very limited effect. Mechanism of index of prices appeared to protect the poorest social groups in Belarus from the currency crisis effects. However, the group of pensioners seemed to be the most harmed by the politics of the state.

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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