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Freedom House: Belarus Shows Minor Improvements in Transition
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This month Freedom House published Nations in Transitions report on Belarus authored by the Editor-in-Chief of Belarus Digest​ Yaraslau Kryvoi. According to methodology, country experts prepare reports while Freedom House has a final say on the ratings. Most of...
27 April 2016
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Belarusian opposition prepares for the 2016 parliamentary elections

Belarusian parliamentary elections may take place on 11 September 2016, according to a recent statement by the Chairperson of the Belarusian Central Election Commission. These elections will take place against the backdrop of President Alexander Lukashenka’s approval rating moving towards...

26 April 2016
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Chernobyl as Belarus’ foreign policy priority

On 25-26 April, Minsk hosts an international conference titled Thirty Years after Chernobyl: From Emergency to Revival and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Affected Territories. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon dispatched his deputy Helen Clark, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator,...

20 April 2016
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Belarus-Turkey Rapprochement: Minsk Refuses to Fight for Kremlin and its Allies

On 14-15 April Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenka took part in the Istanbul summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). This trip triggered another wave of derisory criticism in the Russian media. Even Kommersant​, the liberal Russian daily, wrote about...

14 April 2016
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Public Administration in Belarus: A Story of Dysfunction

On 29 March, President Alexander Lukashenka held a meeting dedicated to the accession of Belarus to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Belarus has enjoyed observer status in the organisation since 1993, and every few years proclaims it will speed...

30 March 2016
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Belarus and Poland Determined to Improve Relations

On 22-23 March, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski visited Belarus, as he explained, to normalise relations "without any pre-conditions". Prior to Waszczykowski's visit, Alexander Lukashenka had not yet confirmed whether he would meet with the Polish minister. Despite...

21 March 2016
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Death Penalty: is There a Price Tag for Mercy?

On 10 March 2016, Minsk hosted an international conference titled The Death Penalty: Transcending the Divide. According to Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, a moratorium on the death penalty would send a positive signal for relations...

10 March 2016
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Belarus-Sweden Relations: Between Trade and Human Rights

Belarus and Sweden are steadily improving their relations, harshly damaged by a diplomatic row in 2012. Sweden has patiently worked on reestablishing its diplomatic presence in Minsk. Belarus is in no hurry to reciprocate. Earlier this year a delegation of...

7 March 2016
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Will Lukashenka Survive his Worst Term in Office?

On 11 October 2015 it was officially revealed that Alexander Lukashenka had won his fifth presidential election. Five months post-election it appears obvious that it is set to be his most difficult term in office yet. Despite a very vague...

25 February 2016
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Belarus Without Sanctions: What Now?

Federika Mogherini, the EU's chief diplomat, has denied that Brussels lifted sanctions against Belarus on geopolitical grounds. Anonymously, EU officials, on the contrary, have confirmed that the decision embodied the victory of pragmatism in Brussels. For the EU, democracy in...

19 February 2016
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Belarus Recycles Corrupt Officials

Last month, Alexander Lukashenka pardoned six top officials charged with corruption. Not only that – he appointed them to manage unprofitable state-owned enterprises. The decision reflects a haphazard approach to fighting corruption. Belarus ranked 107 out of 168 countries in...

17 February 2016
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The Catholic Church and Belarusian Authorities: a Masterpiece of Political Levelling

On 2 February 2016, Commissioner for Religious and Ethnic Affairs of Belarus Lieanid Huliaka criticised the Catholic Church for “insufficiently active cadre training” and “the destructive activities of some Belarusian priests among the population”. Two days later the Conference...

9 February 2016
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Who Blocks Economic Reforms in Belarus

No economic reforms will be carried out in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka announced in his 26 January address to the government. This was the fourth time since the October 2015 presidential election that the President confirm his desire to keep the...

2 February 2016
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Russian Media Attack Belarus: Minsk Remains on the Kremlin Radar

Several months after the October presidential elections in Belarus, conservative and Kremlin-affiliated Russian media and commentators have again turned their attention to Belarus. They warn of an alleged rise in "Russophobia" in Belarus, and criticise the West for plotting to...

28 January 2016
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Belarus is Сhanging Rapidly and Needs the West

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, coupled with Russia's economic decline, has facilitated the separation of Belarusian national identity from all things Russian. The government has made an effort to differentiate Belarus's interests from those of the Kremlin and to...