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Helsinki-2 prospects, Regnum trial, cryptocurrencies, civic nationalism – digest of Belarusian analytics

EU support in Belarus reaches record-breaking €29m annually, of which a vast majority of funds goes to the state, according to the New Ideas Centre. Yauhen Preiherman talks about the prospects of a new Helsinki-2 process. Aliaksandr Klaskoŭski analyses...

First government of the Belarusian People's Republic, 1918 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

EU support in Belarus reaches record-breaking €29m annually, of which a vast majority of funds goes to the state, according to the New Ideas Centre. Yauhen Preiherman talks about the prospects of a new Helsinki-2 process. Aliaksandr Klaskoŭski analyses the results of the visit to Belarus of the European Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

Artyom Shraibman examines the Regnum case. Keir Giles identifies lessons of September 2017’s Russian-Belarusian Zapad military exercise. Tatsiana Kulakevich explains why authoritarian Belarus liberalises cryptocurrencies.

This and more in the new edition of the digest of Belarusian analytics.

Foreign policy

How Much We Have And How Much We Can Have from EU – Anton Radniankou, New Ideas Centre, analysing the grants and politics, concludes that the EU is working on the “Europeanisation” of Belarus through the involvement of the elites in the joint projects, but not putting an ultimatum regarding human rights. Thus, the growth of donor support reached record-breaking €29m per year, and the vast majority of funds goes to the state.

European Security Requires a New Helsinki Process (re-posted by Sovetskaya Belorussiya newspaper) – Analyst Yauhen Preiherman talks about the prospects of the initiative to launch a new European Helsinki-2 negotiation process. He tells about the Minsk Dialogue expert initiative, which monitors the pain points in the security system, and, most importantly, creates the institutional capacity that will help solve the existing problems.

Why Lukashenka Wants a Strong European Union? – Aliaksandr Klaskoŭski analyses the results of the visit to Belarus of the European Commissioner Johannes Hahn. Namely, Alexander Lukashenka has shown himself to be a greater supporter of a strong EU, than other EU politicians. However, the journalist believes that the Belarusian regime is far from the European values; it just needs space for manoeuvre.

Security

Toward a 'healthy' nationalism. BISS research on the national identity policy The 'soft Belarusianisation' that is currently underway in Belarus is the result of the convergence of actions of three types of actors: social activists, business and the Belarusian authorities. Read more

Russia Hit Multiple Targets with Zapad-2017 – Keir Giles, at Carnegie Endowment, identifies lessons of September 2017’s Russian-Belarusian Zapad military exercise. The analyst sees the real value of Zapad-2017 in understanding how Russia is considering responding to perceptions of threat. Critically, this includes recognising the vulnerability of its relationship with Belarus, which remains one of the many potential triggers for offensive action by Russia.

The Case of Pro-Russian Publicists. Five Conclusions Before the Verdict – On 2 February, a verdict will be rendered in the case of the authors of Regnum, accused in anti-Belarusian propaganda. Artyom Shraibman, TUT.by, believes that this is one of the most important political trials of recent years. The Belarusian authorities seem to have learned to see the threats to national security; however, they still have troubles with a proportionate and relevant response.

Economy

Why Would Authoritarian Belarus Liberalise Cryptocurrencies? – Tatsiana Kulakevich, The Washington Post, explains a decree adopted in December in Belarus to legalise cryptocurrency transactions. The author notes that if Belarus’s bold experiment with cryptocurrency takes off, there may be greater demand for legal and financial reform from other sectors – and this could weaken the authoritarian regime.

Economic Outlook. Third Quarter 2017 – According to the quarterly BEROC’s overview, growth slowdown signals are amplified; the consumption growth is subsiding; the growing return on capital can revive investment demand; the inflation is drifting to the price stability zone; the public debt structure is changing, and real wages are growing, but the real well-being is stagnating.

Civil society

The role of labour in the penitentiary system of Belarus. The paper proposes to study the role of labour in the law enforcement system of Belarus taking into consideration its three functions: prevention, correction and reintegration. Read more

Annual Review 2017: Civil Society and Political Parties Moved Beyond the Oppositional Agenda – According to Belarus in Focus’ review, civil society and the opposition attempted to use the window of opportunity and engage new supporters among those discontent with the state’s socio-economic policy. Yet civil society and the opposition have not formed a critical mass of active supporters of change to promote systemic reforms.

Belarus: Paradoxes of National Memory and Freedom of Speech – Grigory Ioffe overviews the preparations by both the opposition and authorities to the centennial of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BPR) proclaimed on 25 March 1918. The analyst notes that civic nationalism as a platform for broad-based consensus about Belarus’s statehood has a minimal confrontational potential.

Belarus Policy

Toward a ‘healthy’ nationalism. BISS research on the national identity policy. The ‘soft Belarusianisation’ that is currently underway in Belarus is the result of the convergence of actions of three types of actors: social activists, business and the Belarusian authorities. The motives of each of them may be different, but they all add up to the same effect. The Russia-Ukraine conflict accelerated, but not generated, Belarusianisation.

Preconditions for this process had emerged over the previous decade, and the government began to appeal to national values in 2011-2012. President Lukashenka is personally interested in having the idea of independence of Belarus become the main imperative for every citizen, especially for officials. Loyalty to Belarus is a necessary condition, though not sufficient one, for loyalty to his regime.

The role of labour in the penitentiary system of Belarus. The presented report aims to describe the existing penitentiary system in Belarus in terms of its labour component. Labor is at the heart of the penal system of the Republic of Belarus. The authors propose to study the role of labour in the law enforcement system of Belarus taking into consideration its three functions: prevention, correction and reintegration.

The report assesses the nature and parameters of the labour market in the penitentiary system, examines the importance of the employment after the release of a prisoner and before entering the correctional facility.

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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