Ghetto or Barricade? – Digest of Belarusian Analytics
Belarusian experts carried out a lively debate on the role of civil society and intellectual in contemporary Belarus, revelations of Zianon Pazniak and the situation with doing business in Belarus among other topics.
Civil Society: To the Ghetto or the Barricade? – political analyst Alexander Klaskousky summarised the views of the participants of the conference "The State of Civil Society in Belarus," which took place in Warsaw on October 26-27, with support from the Casimir Pulaski Foundation and the Council of Europe. In particular, CSO activists believe that Belarusian authorities talking about modernization are not ready to proceed with serious reforms. Also, CSOs have still not still seen any mitigation of the circumstances for their activity in the country.
Damocles Sword of Anonymous Donations – Yury Chausau, based on case of the magazine ARCHE which is now under financial investigation, expresses concern that formal suspicion of violating the law in the economic sphere can be a reason for the persecution of civil society institutions. The expert, in particular, draws attention to the legislative nonsense whereby anonymous donations in Belarus are not prohibited, but are treated as foreign aid, the use of which is tightly regulated.
The Main Battle will be After Lukashenka – Alexander Klaskousky refers the Alexander Lukashenka's thesis that it is time "to bring to power normal young politicians." The journalist makes a sad conclusion that the hour "X", which is so expected of change agents can be stupidly missed: "Belarus lacks a truly educated, hardened in real battles, polished by practice, and disciplined by responsibility political cadres. It's difficult to consider as such those members of Parliament who do not solve anything, or languish in the ghetto, at most what now exists is the leading of online internecine wars by opposition figures.
Another revelations from Zyanon Pazniak – one of the most sensational recent revelations belongs to Zyanon Paznyak, leader of the CCP-BPF who has lived abroad for more than 15 years. Paznyak narrates for almost 30 minutes about how the former head of the OSCE office in Minsk Hans-Georg Wieck, in coordination with KGB, who spent $1.7 million on splitting BPF and hand-picked the current Belarusian opposition, which are "a bunch of people to whom the West gives money and tells what to do". Paznyak suggests that democracy is only a tool to achieve Western interests in Belarus, which is not always in the best interests of Belarus and was widely quoted by state media.
The Return of Europe – BISS presented the seventh issue of the polling memorandum series based on the public opinion poll data of the Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS). Surprisingly good news for Europe: for the first time since June 2011 Belarusians would prefer a European choice. No clear winner appeared in the controversy surrounding the opposition’s decision over whether to boycott parliamentary elections or to participate. BISS considers those to be the two main outcomes of the latest polling data provided by IISEPS.
Belarusians' Ideas of Human Rights and Rights Defense Activities – the study was conducted by the Centre for European Transformation on the initiative of Belarusian human rights organizations from April-June 2012. The purpose of the study was to identify concepts that exist in Belarusian society regarding the relationship between people and the state, human rights and their defence. The initial hypotheses generally affirmed that: a) the set of issues that is being researched is not actualised in the practises and beliefs of the respondents; b) the level of competence of the respondents as to the specified issues is not very high.
Analytical Review of the Human Rights Situation in Belarus. July-September 2012 – the Review covers the period of July-September 2012 and identifies medium-term trends in the area of human rights, socio-political and economic situation in Belarus. It also contains a final report on the observation of the parliamentary elections and the analysis of the state of Belarusian civil society. The document was prepared by BHC, BAJ, the NGO Assembly, Lawtrend, Human Rights Centre Viasna, BISS, EuroBelarus, etc.
Discussion TUT: Will People of the Moment Lead Changes in Belarus? – political analyst Alexander Klaskovsky and political columnist Pavlyuk Bykovsky speculate who could take the lead, when Belarusian society is ready for a change in politics. Both experts believe that the situation will birth new faces, but not use the former presidential candidates and political activists who are now displaced abroad.
Belarus and Russia: Affinity and Dependency – Grigory Ioffe considers the closeness of Russia and Belarus which has multiple aspects, one of which is a structural affinity between Russian and Belarusian societies. Both are afflicted with an internal schism, and the two resulting segments of each society have limited mutual communication. The problem of the Belarusian Westernizers is their proclivity to construe their own preferences and attitudes as those of the society as a whole. The analyst refers to the case with the diametrically opposite verdicts on the September 23 parliamentary elections by the opposition-minded electorate and the rest of Belarusian society, and supports it with the recent IISEPS data.
Index of Economic Adequacy of Belarus-2012 – analytical community "Liberal Club" presents the second edition of its study "Index of Economic Adequacy of Belarus-2012". The annual survey is an attempt to draw the attention of the Belarusian public to the existing economic instability in Belarus and the absence of public debate on how to overcome it; the latter is considered by the authors as a major threat to national security. The presentation of the report took place on October 26, in Minsk.
Business in Belarus 2012: Status, Trends, Prospects – IPM Research Center prepared an annual report on the status and prospects of small and medium size business in Belarus in 2012. The issue considers the economic situation of small and medium enterprises and their development prospects, including an analysis of the influence of the integration agreements with Russia and Kazakhstan in this field.
Belarus’ Foreign Policy Index №10 – The Kremlin retains the full political support of Minsk. The Ukrainian vector after its summer activation has returned to essentially zero. The relations with developing countries improved a bit, especially with China. The relations with the European Union re-entered the stage of "vacuum of events". These are the main conclusions presented by BISS in the latest issue of Belarusian Foreign Policy Index, covering September and October of 2012.
Belarus Announces Pull Out from Latvian and Lithuanian Ports
Alexander Lukashenka announced a re-orientation of Belarusian export cargo streams from Latvian and Lithuanian ports to Russian ports. The announcement came on 9 November at a meeting with the Governor of Russia's Leningrad region.
Belarusian authorities have started a new round of geopolitical games between the East and the West. On the one hand, Belarus is showing its loyalty to Putin. On the other, it is showing its importance to Lithuania and Latvia. The experts say that this step will give no economic benefits to Belarus. Baltic ports offer much better conditions with regard to prices, quality and speed, than Russia could ever provide.