How to Make Foreign Aid More Effective – Digest of Belarusian Analytics
Belarusian analytical reports and papers focused on effectiveness of foreign aid to Belarusian civil society, impact of poverty on political activism and foreign policy. Amnesty International and the US Department of State published their annual human rights reports which touch upon the situation in Belarus.
Neighborhood Program: View from Belarus – Ulad Vialichka, head of International Consortium "EuroBelarus", identifies a number of drawbacks of the international programs of development of civil society, in particular the Danish strategy for Neighbourhood countries. In his opinion, the civil society is concerned that local actors are excluded from the system of planning programs and strategies and the increasing role of external intermediaries.
His article calls for introduction of the principle of publicity and better efficiency evaluation. He notes that the absence of investments into «basic means» such as buildings, offices, personnel, etc. makes civil society organisations weak and totally dependent on external financing.
Belarusian Monthly Economic Review. May 2012 – The IPM Research Center issued the May issue of monthly bulletin which reviews recent developments in political and economic life of the country. The main topics of issue: exhaustion of the acute phase of the conflict with the EU; chemical and petrochemical industry are the leaders of growth; the surplus in foreign trade has grown; the monetary base decreased.
EESC Analytical study. Eastern Europe Studies Centre (EESC) presents the analytical study on the independent Belarusian trade unions “Are the Independent Democratic Trade Unions of Belarus the Engine of Social Reforms?” 31 respondents, who are the representatives of the leading entities of the democratic trade unions of Belarus, were interviewed in the process of the survey. On the basis of the given survey its authors propose certain recommendations for the successful development of the civic society in Belarus, consolidation of the role of public organisations and first of all that of the independent trade union amalgamations.
How to Survive on $ 4,000? – Journalist Viktor Martinovich reacts to the article of a girl on onliner.by which exploded the Bynet last week. The girl told that her monthly salary in $ 700 is not enough for a decent life. Analyzing numerous comments below the text, Martinovich concludes that the Belarusians live in poverty, they are not ashamed of poor level of their live, and more importantly – the social situation in no way translates in people's heads into dissatisfaction with the authorities.
Belarus’ Foreign Policy Index #7 – Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS) released a new issue of Belarus’ Foreign Policy Index covering the developments in March and April 2012. They observe deepening of cooperation in the Russian vector, a weakening of negative rhetoric in the European vector and an aggravation in the relationship with Ukraine. Furthermore, certain contradictions in Belarus’ relations with China became visible for the first time ever. The diplomatic crisis has been resolved as soon as Andrei Sannikau and Zmicier Bandarenka were released from prison and EU ambassadors got back to Minsk. However, despite the obvious willingness of the Belarusian side to put an end to the conflict with the European Union, its actions remained extremely contradictory.
Ninth issue of BISS Trends – Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS) presents the ninth issue of the BISS Trends – quarterly monitoring of the Belarus’s political, social and economic development. The experts note that the first quarter of 2012 can be regarded as a pause before Belarus finally has to address a crucial geopolitical challenge. The end of this period saw the country in a position of considerable uncertainty, which is largely due to the impending geopolitical choice of its administration: Belarus will either embark on a multi-vector policy, or aim exclusively at further integration with Russia.
Belarus National Security Blog analytical paper: April 2012 – the Blog's experts note that April is remarkable with two events: the beginning of a rapprochement with the West, which resulted in the release of Andrei Sannikov and Dmitry Bondarenko, suspend the practice of the ban on travel abroad for the opposition; and strengthening the populist rhetoric of the authorities (again, a promise to bring the average salary up to $500).
Top 7 Secrets about the "Eastern Partnership" and Belarus from «Wikileaks» – Andrei Eliseev recalls that the initiative Eastern Partnership started three years ago. After reviewing the diplomatic correspondence declassified by «Wikileaks», the expert concludes that the negotiations on the inclusion of Minsk in the initiative were not easy. Belarus, however, almost did not use the benefits of the Eastern Partnership initiative.
Review-Chronicle of Human Rights Violations. April 2012. Human Rights Centre Viasna released its monthly Review-Chronicle of Human Rights violations in Belarus. The experts note that April was marked with the first steps toward de-escalation of political conflict between the Belarusian authorities and the EU, in particular, releasing of two political prisoners (Andrei Sannikov and Dmitry Bondarenko) and returning of EU ambassadors to Minsk.
Belarus among 10 Most LGBT rights violating states in Europe. Ilga Europe, a Brussels-based NGO campaigning for equal rights for LGBTI people, launched the project to become its annual report on the state of play of LGBTI rights in Europe. According to the report, Belarus is on the list of top-10 sexual minorities most oppressing countries. The survey covers 49 European countries.
Amnesty International Report 2012. On May 24, human rights organization "Amnesty International" has published an annual report 2012 "The state of the world's human rights". In particular in Belarus, the report indicates the worsening economic situation, growth of tension in society and, consequently, an even greater restriction of freedom by the authorities.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011. On May 24, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. State Department, published the report on the situation of human rights in 2011. The report notes that the most significant human rights problems in Belarus continued to be the inability of citizens to change their government; a system bereft of checks and balances in which authorities committed frequent, serious abuses; and the government’s politically motivated imprisonments of hundreds of people during the year.
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.
Belarus Resists Privatisation of Large Enterprises
Lukashenka expressed on several occasions the hope that Russia would increase the volume of its subsidies to Belarus, taking into account that the West "wants to bend" him.
Defence Minister Jury Zhadobin said that Russia should help through preferential supplies of gas and crude oil, so that the Belarusian military personnel get the same salary as Russian personnel: the significance of Belarus as Russia's western outpost increases in connection with the US' plans to deploy anti-missile defence sites in Central European member countries.
In 2012 the Putin administration will not revive the acute differences in its relations with Lukashenka's regime. However, Moscow is constantly sending signals that the respite that Lukashenka got from Russia's pressure is just a temporary one.
Any lengthy pause in Russia' foreign policy activity in regards to Ukraine will mean that Putin will get back to the Belarusian issue that he was not able to solve during his first two presidential mandates.
In Moscow they are considering what benefit they can derive from the cold war between Lukashenka's regime and the West Read more
A number of Russian officials (in particular, Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin) said that Russia would not abandon Belarus while it is in a difficult situation and will back it. However, in reality, in Moscow they always have considered and are considering what benefit they can derive from the cold war between Lukashenka's regime and the West.
As expected, no results came out of backdoor talks about Belarus' participation in Russia's retaliatory measures against the deployment of US anti-missile defence sites. The topic of deployment of tactical missile system "Iskander" is no longer found in the statements of high-ranking Russian military officials.
To Attach Belarus Securely
The aim of Russian policy towards Belarus is to establish guarantees that regardless of who is president of Belarus, Russia's western neighbour will always take its lead from Russian foreign policy and play the role of the military and political ally. Russia strives to attach Belarus securely through a number of sequential steps of genuine integration, as it is seen by Russia.
Russian companies were interested in buying controlling shares of thirty major Belarusian enterprises Read more
The first such step is the sale of major Belarusian enterprises to Russian companies. In May 2001 then-Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail Kasyanov said that the Russian companies were interested in buying controlling shares of thirty major Belarusian enterprises. Fifteen enterprises on the list, which was made public by Kasyanov, produced more than 50% of Belarus' GDP.
Russia has only recently bought ‘Beltransgas’. Lukashenka did not have any other choice but to sell the asset, following the launching of the ‘Nord Stream’ gas pipeline. However, Lukashenka’s team will keep resisting Russian business interests, as far as all other positions are concerned.
No Further Privatisation of Flagship Enterprises
On March 30, 2012, Lukashenka suggested that the Belarusian side would not meet its commitment on privatisation it had to undertake, in order to get a loan from the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund (i.e., Russia). “If you’d like to please the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, America, Russia or anyone else, saying that we are selling something, do it on your own. I will not support it. It will not happen, while I am in power.”
Concerning the intentions of Russian senior managers to buy controlling shares of Belarusian enterprises, Lukashenka noted: “So far, I have always suggested to the guys to leave the property alone. Just get united and show us, how you’re going to work and how you see the outcome. Then we will give you a New Year's goose, as you often say. We’ll see if you may also require a cow in your shed after that. It means 10% or 25 % respectively.”
On April 12, 2012, the Minister of Economics Mikalay Snapkou stated that Belarus would not sell large enterprises in order to meet its commitments to the Anti-Crisis Fund. It will go on selling only small and medium-sized enterprises. “As for the ‘blue chips’ and negotiations on them, it’s a point of great nicety with economic and geopolitical pros and cons. It is not an indicator of privatisation. The indicator of privatisation is constant constructive work with medium-sized enterprises,” Snapkou said.
New Russian Loans Suspended
Talking to journalists, Snapkou talked a lot about mistakes of Russian privatisation scenario: “The aggressive, intensive, and too quick privatisation leads to a) recession; b) loss of industrial potential; c) decline in living standards. The Russian officials in turn offered their response to these statements by their Belarusian colleagues.
Russia is waiting for the privatisation of oil refineries and oil pipelines Read more
Thus, talking about Belarus’ commitments to the EurAsES Anti-Crisis Fund on April 2, 2012, Viktor Balashov, Economic Advisor to the Embassy of Russia in Belarus noted: “Russia is waiting for the privatisation of oil refineries and oil pipelines.”
On April 23, 2012, the Minister of Finance of Russia Anton Siluanov stated that Belarus failed to meet its obligations, connected with getting a credit from the the EurAsES Anti-Crisis Fund. In particular, the country has not met its commitment to privatise state-owned assets to the sum of billion $2.5bn in 2012.
The EurAsES Anti-Crisis Fund representatives emphasised that the failure to meet the requirements for issuing the credit led to the non-provision of another transfer in the amount of $440m. This instalment was supposed to be transferred to Belarus by February 28, 2012.