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Vadzim Smok
Vadzim Smok
Vadzim Smok is the Ostrogorski Centre coordinator in Belarus and researcher at the Institute of Political Studies 'Political Sphere' based in Minsk and Vilnius. Originally from Hrodna and he currently lives in Minsk. Vadzim has a BA and an MA in Political Science from European Humanities University in Vilnius, Lithuania. His main research interest cover comparative politics, political institutions and local and regional politics.
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14 April 2015
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Why Belarusians Avoid Conscription

On 5 March a soldier from a border unit near the city of Hrodna committed suicide while on duty. Although over the past couple of years the authorities have taken serious measures to reduce the number of deaths and...

31 March 2015
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Dazhynki Festival Upsets Belarusian Villagers

On 25 February the local government of the Belarusian town of Kruhlaje announced that its residents will have an obligatory unpaid day of work. The authorities still are trying to collect money for the annual Dažynki festival, since the...

10 March 2015
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Belarus-Kyrgyzstan Tensions Rise after the Murder of Kyrgyz Mobster in Minsk

On 18 February, Kyrgyz crime boss Almanbet Anapiyaev was found dead in a car boot in Minsk, an event that heated up tensions between Minsk and Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan claims that former Kyrgyz president Bakiev and his retinue are responsible for...

5 March 2015
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Should Belarus Join the Council of Europe?

On 24-27 February, Andrea Rigoni, rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), visited Minsk for the first time since 2009. Rigoni has a reputation of being especially friendly toward the...

19 February 2015
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Dealing with Slavery and Human Trafficking in Belarus

On 6 February a Belarusian businessman received 5 years in prison for enslaving a group of Vietnamese whom he had earlier agreed to deliver to the European Union. Meanwhile, the Belarusian government has defined fighting human trafficking as one...

10 February 2015
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Belarus Wants Foreign Catholic Priests Out

At the end of January, senior Belarusian officials made statements that threatened to undermine Belarus' good relations with the Vatican, severing ties that the country had worked for years to establish. Aliaksandr Lukashenka and the Commissioner for Religions spoke out...

28 January 2015
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Major Independent Publisher under Attack in Belarus

On 9 January the Economic Court of Minsk charged the Lohvinaŭ book store with unauthorised book sales and ordered the confiscation of its whole year’s profit. This is perhaps the largest fine ever received by civil society in Belarus. Until...

20 January 2015
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Lukashenka Hammers Drug Dealers and Users with a Tough Decree

Starting 1 January 2015, Belarusians can no longer use e-money services with operations based inside the country. A presidential decree signed on 28 December requires all domestic e-money service account holders to provide...

9 January 2015
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Hunting Tourism and Corruption in Belarus

Since the end of the 2000s, Belarus has become a destination for many hunt lovers from abroad. 40% of Belarus is covered with woods, which remain a natural habitat for many species of animals. Today, booking a hunting expedition...

6 January 2015
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Will Belarus Increase Internet Censorship after December’s Financial Panic?

On 19 December, Belarus resorted to an unprecedented step to stop the rapidly unfolding panic on the foreign currency market. It blocked a dozen popular independent web sites, who published news on the growing financial trouble. Previously, the authorities blocked...

9 December 2014
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Why Belarusians Turned to Shopping Abroad

With the economy dominated by the state and its illiberal trade laws, many Belarusians are increasingly taking to shopping abroad. In the the middle of November, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group reported that customers from Belarus ranked fifth in the...

1 December 2014
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The Ukrainian Flag Banned in Belarus?

On 21 November the Minsk Arena hosted the famous Ukrainian rock band Okean Elzy, who are known for their support of Euromaidan and its pro-European orientation. The musicians did not raise any political issues during the gig according to...

21 November 2014
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Belarusian Espionage: Abroad and at Home

On 10 November the General Prosecutor’s Office of Lithuania reported that a Vilnius court will try a Lithuanian citizen on espionage charges. The Lithuanian authorities claim that he cooperated with Belarusian security services. As other cases from recent years prove,...

12 November 2014
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Poland, Belarus and Ukraine To Revive the Baltic – Black Sea Water Route

Belarus and Ukraine are currently studying the economic feasibility of reviving the E40 waterway which goes along the Vistula and Dnieper rivers. It will connect the Baltic and Black Seas and make inland shipping cheaper and more environmentally friendly. On...

29 October 2014
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Belarus May Introduce Forced Labour to Fight Sponging

On 20 October the government announced a plan to introduce punishment for sponging ('tuneyadstvo’). It was practiced in Soviet times and it may return to Belarus again. About 10% of population able to work do not pay taxes although...