Belarus-Russia disintegration, strengthening air force, Belarusian congress – Ostrogorski Centre digest
In October the Ostrogorski Centre participated in the Sixth International Congress of Belarusian Studies, the largest annual conference on Belarus in the social sciences and humanities.
Its analysts presented analytical papers on Belarus-Russia disintegration and non-formal education in Belarus. It also offered its earlier printed publications to Congress participants.
Over the past months, analysts have also written about topics such as the rhetoric of Belarusian diplomacy in the UN, the long standing dispute between Russian and Belarus regarding the Single Air Defence System, state policies more sympathetic towards the Belarusian language, and other issues.
Igar Gubarevich analyses the rhetoric of Belarusian diplomats at the UN. Most challenges now facing Belarus stem from the regime’s outdated economic policy, its ill-judged and unreserved affiliation with Russia, and chronic neglect of national identity issues.
However, Belarusian diplomats prefer to play at global politics and use the UN as a rostrum to blame their country's economic, social and security deficiencies on Western induced "global chaos". This attitude may placate Russia and help Belarus secure sympathies from certain third-world nations, but is unlikely to strengthen Belarus's position at the UN.
Siarhei Bohdan argues that Minsk prevailed in a long standing dispute with the Kremlin on how best to secure the Belarusian segment of the Single Air Defence System should the Belarusian Air Force not have enough planes. It will apparently receive new planes for the Belarusian army rather than a Russian air base.
This information is based on a report by Bellingcat claiming that Russia has withdrawn its fighter jets from Belarus, as well as a report leaked from the Belarusian parliament revealing that Minsk had included the cost of state-of-the-art Russian fighter jets in the next year's national budget.
Ryhor Astapenia argues that the authorities are currently changing their policy towards the Belarusian language. The appointment of Alena Anisim of the Belarusian Language Society to the Parliament shows that the Belarusian authorities do favour gradual measures promoting Belarusian. However, these measures may not necessarily lead to a revival of the Belarusian language, but rather simply prevent it from disappearing from the Belarusian education system.
The Ostrogorski Centre at the 6th International Congress of Belarusian Studies
On 7-9 October the Ostrogorski Centre took part in the Sixth International Congress of Belarusian Studies (Kaunas, Lithuania), the largest annual conference on Belarus in the social sciences and humanities. On 7 October Ryhor Astapenia presented a paper entitled ‘Belarus-Russia relations after the conflict in Ukraine’ in the section on regional cooperation and national security. On 8 October Yaraslau Kryvoi and Vadzim Smok presented an analytical paper called ‘Non-formal education in Belarus: expanding the learning space’.
Comments in the media
Paul Goble provided a brief overview of Ryhor Astapenia's paper, “Belarusian-Russian Relations after the Ukrainian Conflict", for Eurasia Review. He summarised the study's main findings, which indicate a process of gradual disintegration between Belarus and Russia.
On the Political Mirror programme on Polish radio, Ryhor Astapenia discussed who won in the recent oil and gas war, what Minsk can gain from cooperation with Warsaw, and why Lukashenka wants to change the constitution.
Thinktanks.by quoted Ryhor Astapenia's presentation at the Sixth International Congress of Belarusian Studies. According to Astapenia, Belarus and Russia are undergoing a process of disintegration in economic, military and foreign policy spheres; this is the result of the formation of Belarusian statehood. Nevertheless, this change will not lead to a profound break in relations with Moscow, as Belarus is still dependent on the Russian market. Belarus will always seek to maintain good relations with Russia.
Igar Gubarevich discussed Belarusian authorities' contacts with the diaspora on Polish radio. Ever since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken charge of maintaining good relations with Belarusians abroad, contacts have become more frequent. An advisory council for Belarusians abroad was established several years ago. However, the authorities invite to the council only those Belarusians who are loyal to the current political regime in Belarus, while Belarusians from the UK or the strong American community are not represented at all.
In the Political Mirror programme on Polish radio, Ryhor Astapenia discussed the activity of Belarusian diplomats in relation to the US, the situation of Belarusian prisons, the state of Belarusian banks, and a change in Aliaksandr Lukashenka's image.
The BelarusProfile.com database now includes the following people: Aliena Anisim, Hanna Kanapackaja, Piotra Piatroŭski, Mikalaj Ulachovič, Ihar Marzaliuk, Uladzimir Japryncaŭ, Michail Dzemčanka, Aliaksiej Alieksin, Viktar Piatrovič.
We have also updated the profiles of Mikalaj Aŭtuchovič, Ryhor Astapienia, Uladzimir Arloŭ, Aliaksandr Aliesin, Aliena Tankačova, Valiancin Akudovič, Dzmitryj Holuchaŭ, Aliaksandr Cacocha, Jury Hubarevič, Arkadź Dobkin, Stanislaŭ Bahdankievič, Valier Bulhakaŭ, Hienadź Buraŭkin, Alieś Bialiacki, Valier Vakĺučyk.
The Ostrogorski Centre continues to update the database of policy papers on BelarusPolicy.com. The papers of partner institutions added this month include:
- Aleh Mazol. Spatial wage inequality in Belarus. BEROC, 2016.
- Kirill Shakhnov. The tax system of Belarus. BEROC, 2016.
- Uladzimir Akulich, Yulia Yafimnenka, Katsiaryna Alieksiatovich, Viktoryia Smalenskaya, Uladzislau Ramaniuk, Alieś Aliachnovič, Sierž Naŭrodski. The sixth issue of the Macroeconomic Review of Belarus (January-June 2016). CASE Belarus, 2016.
- Uladzimir Akulich, Yulia Yafimnenka, Viktoryia Smalenskaya, Uladzislau Ramaniuk, Alieś Aliachnovič, Sierž Naŭrodski, Katsiaryna Alieksiatovich, Yaraslau Mialhui. Economic trends in Belarus (Issue 2, September 2016). CASE Belarus, 2016.
- Ina Ramasheuskaya, Natallia Rabava. A new approach to professional development of civil servants in Belarus. BIPART, 2016.
Think tanks in Belarus are encouraged to submit their research for inclusion into the database by completing this form.
The Ostrogorski Centre is a private, non-profit organisation dedicated to analysis and policy advocacy on problems which Belarus faces in its transition to market economy and the rule of law. Its projects include Belarus Digest, the Journal of Belarusian Studies,BelarusPolicy.com,BelarusProfile.com and Ostro.by.
Best Belarusian think tanks, death penalty, tourism accessibility – civil society digest
Kastryčnicky Ekanamičny Forum (KEF) opens registration. Helsinki Committee and Danish Institute for Human Rights roll out the Human Rights and Business country guide for Belarus.
BRC presents results of the 2nd Think Tank Rating – BEROC ranks top. Sixth International Congress of Belarusian Studies takes place in Kaunas, 500 participants attend. Human rights groups hold a Week Against Death Penalty in Belarus. Regular BNP conference is scheduled in Minsk for late October. United Way launches a service to generate NGO registration documents. The state registered 53 new NGOs during the first six months of 2016.
This and more in the new edition of civil society digest.
Think tanks and academia
Belarusian Research Council (BRC) presents the results of the 2nd rating of think tanks. The first place went to Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center BEROC; the second – to Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS) and the third – to the expert community Nashe Mnenie/ Our Opinion. The rating assesses the think tanks on three components: organisational capacity, information outreach and analytical and research activities.
Sixth International Congress of Belarusian Studies took place in Kaunas. The Congress was held on 7-9 October and gathered around 500 participants. This is the largest annual meeting of Belarusian and foreign experts, which are involved in studying Belarus. The event is organised since 2010 by independent think tanks, including Political Sphere Institute, EuroBelarus Consortium, BISS.
Cooperation of public and private sectors
KEF opens registration. Kastryčnicky Ekanamičny Forum/October Economic Forum, KEF is to be held for the fourth time on 3-4 November in Minsk and gather experts for a professional dialogue on Belarus’ sustainable development within the context of global economic development. KEF is organised by the Research Centre IPM in association with BEROC and CASE Belarus. The topic of this year is state-owned enterprises' restructuring.
Half of the places in Public Advisory Councils go to the private sector. The government of Belarus has adopted a decree #802 stimulating public advisory councils at state bodies to the true work. The number of representatives of state bodies shall be not more than a half of the total number of a council. The opinion of state bodies will be considered on a par with the position of the business community, as well as other council members.
Kastryčnicky Kirmaš. On 21 October nonprofit agency Your Tomorrow invites on the Kastryčnicky Kirmash/ The October Fair – an event where employers will be able to get acquainted with the highly educated and talented young people. Agency Your Tomorrow was created to use the potential of young Belarusians, who graduated the international educational programs.
A new beginning for human rights and business in Belarus. The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), together with the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC), created an easy to use a guide on the human rights and business situation in Belarus. The guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the ways in which companies do or may impact human rights in Belarus.
Week Against the Death Penalty. On 5 October the Human Rights Centre Viasna and FIDH presented a joint report on the death penalty in Belarus. This is the central event in a series of activities arranged in the framework of the Week Against the Death Penalty, which is held annually by the Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus on 5-10 October.
Eduard Paĺčys is a political prisoner. On 5 October, Belarusian human rights organisations issued a joint statement regarding the politically motivated prosecution of blogger Eduard Paĺčys, editor of the 1863x.com website, and called him a political prisoner. Paĺčys is accused of committing criminal crimes on incitement to racial, national or religious enmity and distribution of pornographic materials.
Belarus launches a tourism accessibility campaign. The initiative announced by the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, aims at promoting the right of persons with disabilities for equal participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport. It is expected that up to 30 public facilities will be adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. The project is funded by the EU with the budget of 1.111 million euro.
9th call of humanitarian program Meeting Place: Dialogue. The program is implemented by the Understanding International NGO and funded by the German Federal Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future. The program aims at social support of citizens who suffered from Nazi persecution during WWII, as well as other members of the war generation. The project budget can be 5K-20K euros per year. Deadline is 30 November.
News of NGOs
Conference of the Belarusian National Platform (BNP) of the EaP Civil Society Forum is to be held on 22 October in Minsk. The conference aims at the adoption of regular reports, election of the Coordinating Committee, and discussion of the action plan for 2016. For the first time, the conference plans to discuss the contribution of organisations-participants to the activities of the BNP.
United Way launches a service to generate CSO registration documents. Ngo.by portal suggests a free service for Belarusian CSOs – a system of generation of official documents required for the creation of a CSO. By filling out a few lines with an actual data, users receive a complete registration package. The system generates documents using statutes and protocols of the registered CSOs.
53 newly-established NGOs were registered during the first six months of 2016. For the same period, authorities also registered 1 trade union, 2 unions of NGOs, and 5 local funds. As of 1 July 2016, as many as 2,695 NGOs and 41,327 NGO organisational structures were on the record. According to the Ministry of Justice of Belarus, majority of the NGOs are engaged in physical training and sports (722).
DzedLINE in Minsk. Belarusian public association of elderly and Gallery TUT.BY start a series of events called DzedLINE/Granddad LINE. The program aims to raise public awareness and talk in a clear language about what aging is, when it starts, and whether it is possible to slow down the aging. The first event will take place on 12 October. The aging topic is also raised in a photo fashion-project about active seniors.
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.