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Crackdown on media, online casinos and IT squad – Belarus civil society digest

Belarusian authorities initiated a new wave of journalists’ detentions. Blogger detained in Hrodna for cooperation with Belsat TV. TBM called to list Belarusian as native language during the upcoming census. Expert communities released Belarusian Yearbook 2018. Project on monitoring...
Belarus human rights

Belarusian authorities initiated a new wave of journalists’ detentions. Blogger detained in Hrodna for cooperation with Belsat TV.

TBM called to list Belarusian as native language during the upcoming census. Expert communities released Belarusian Yearbook 2018.

Project on monitoring of small rivers and lakes started in Polesse. Minsk held Alternative Energy Market environmental forum. Brest hosted Women’s Business Festival.

Belarusian army recruits for IT squad. Belarus legalises online casinos.

This and more in the new edition of Belarus civil society digest.

Civil society

Media crackdown in Belarus. Last week, the police raided the newsrooms of several leading media outlets, including the Belarusian major independent media TUT.BY portal and BelaPAN news agency, and detained at least 18 journalists. An unprecedented wave of journalists’ detentions started on August 7 under a criminal investigation into alleged unauthorized access to paid services of the government-owned BelTA news agency. By 10th August, all the detained journalists were released.

Bloggers and journalists under pressure. A criminal case has been opened against Brest blogger Siarhey Pyatrukhin on the charge of “an insult inflicted in a public statement”. Blogger from a Homiel region Andrey Pavuk was detained for cooperation with Belsat TV. In Hrodna, the police seized equipment from journalists working with Belsat.

Belarus’ MFA is the most open state body of the country. The Ministry of Education is the most closed, according to a study by the Political Research Institute Political Sphere. The findings are based on 21 in-depth interviews with Belarusians CSO representatives.

Belarusian studies

TBM calls to list Belarusian as native language during the upcoming census. Head of the Belarusian Language Society (TBM) and MP Alena Anisim addressed to the Belarusians to recall that the next census would be held in 2019. She urged the citizens to claim the Belarusian language as native that contributes to strengthening the independence and national security of Belarus.

Belarusian Yearbook 2018 released. The annual edition presents a comprehensive analysis of the key developments and current status of the main sectors of the state and society in 2017. The book is published under the aegis of the Agency for Social and Political Expert Appraisal and Nashe Mnenie (Our Opinion in English) expert community.

International Congress of Belarusian Studies will not take place in 2018. The preparatory work has been conducted for the Congress to take place in Belarus since late 2017; however, the organizers met ‘technical and organizational obstacles’. Like all previous events, in 2019, the 8th Congress of Belarusian Studies will be held outside of Belarus.

Ecological activities

Project on monitoring of small rivers started in Polesse. The participants will monitor a condition of rivers, lakes, and wells and conduct 20 campaigns on water examination and coasts cleaning in border regions of Belarus and Ukraine. The project is co-funded by the EU and implemented by Pinsk executive committee and Interakcia Foundation from Belarusian side.

Palessie

A landscape of Belarusian Polesse. Source: sputnik.by

Alternative Energy Market environmental forum was held on July 27, in Minsk. An event was dedicated to renewable energy sources in their most unexpected manifestations and organized by the cultural centre KORPUS and EcoDom CSO. The forum’s program includes a fair of eco-initiatives, a demonstration site, real stories of users of renewable energy sources, an environmental film festival, etc.

Business Bicycle contest kicks off in Minsk. The goal is to find and encourage companies that prefer to use environmentally friendly transport, a bicycle. From August 1 to August 31, the contest organizers will monitor the activities of companies in social networks and award the best. The contest is organized by the Minsk Bicycle Society and the Center for Environmental Solutions and supported by EU.

Summer festivals

Sprava festival took place on August 4-5. International community engagement festival Sprava (Deal in English) is meant to celebrate Belarus’ historical and natural landmarks, modern art and music. The organizers are a group of enthusiasts who together with local residents turn a peninsula near Lake Chereiskoye into a new cultural venue.

CSOs presented themselves at FSP festival. Freaky Summer Party (FSP) is one of the most popular festivals in Minsk that gather thousands of people. On July 28-29, a zone of public partners presented various civic initiatives: from a public campaign against homophobia to improvisational theatres. For example, at a Green Network spot, it was possible to sign and send a postcard about the climate change.

Belarus online casino

Source: belta.by

Women’s Business Festival in Brest was held on August 4. Women who already had a business and would have liked to present it at the festival were invited to the participation. According to the organizer, Brest Regional Development Fund, one of the objectives of the event was the unity of values, thoughts, and ideas of the women’s business community.

Other

Belarus is the best friend of Ukraine. 74% of Ukrainians treat Belarusians positively – this is the best indicator among all countries in the world. Earlier, Russians similarly spoke about Belarus.

Cyberwarfare IT squad to appear in Belarusian army. Up to 60 people are to be recruited for the information technology company of the Belarusian army. The IT trend in Belarus is to be taken to another level. Belarus Security Blog welcomes the establishment of IT squad as a positive, albeit belated.

Belarus climbs to 38th position in E-Government Development Index (EDGI). The country has moved 11 positions up to make it to the top 40 countries in the Very-High-EGDI level group for the first time. The UN E-Government Survey is compiled for 193 countries every two years.

Belarus legalizes online casinos. The new presidential decree will help to minimize the capital outflow to other countries. It will limit the Belarusian citizens’ access to online games, which are organized outside the national segment of the Internet

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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Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk holds degrees from Coventry University and the European Humanities University. She is based in Minsk, Belarus.
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