Realists winning, Russian factor poll, Belarusisation increased – digest of Belarusian analytics
Only 5% of Belarusians want Belarus to become a part of Russia according to the fresh polling data by the Belarusian Analytical Workshop.
Chris Miller sees Moscow’s plans to make Belarus a cornerstone of its Eurasian integration project as unsuccessful.
Grigory Ioffe argues that realists winning the tug of war with idealists, both in the Belarusian government and in the opposition.
The opposition is split on street protests tactics. Belarusization has not ended and even increased, argues Alieh Trusaŭ.
This and more in the new edition of digest of Belarusian analytics.
Belarus-Russia relations and Eurasian integration
Belarus: Sitting on Two Chairs Is What the Doctor Ordered – Grigory Ioffe considers Belarus’ sitting-on-two-chairs foreign policy. The expert believes that there is no mischief, just a genuine desire to sustain itself as an independent state in a problematic neighbourhood known as the historical ‘bloodlands’.
Realists Winning Tug of War Over Belarus – Grigory Ioffe observes the ascending realism in Belarus in the growing understanding domestically that a) so-called Eurasian integration is no universal master key, but rejecting it altogether is harmful and unrealistic; and b) improving relations with both the EU and the US is vital because the sources of technological progress and healthy economic strategies are in the West.
Only 5% of Belarusians want Belarus to become a part of Russia. However, the Russian factor of impact on Belarus remains: 63% of the Belarusians positively assess the annexation of Crimea; the influence of Russian media on residents of Belarus is 60%. The fresh polling data by the Belarusian Analytical Workshop were announced at the round table, organised by the Minsk Dialogue expert initiative.
Belarus and the Failure of the Russian World – Chris Miller sees Moscow’s plans to make Belarus a cornerstone of its Eurasian integration project as unsuccessful. Given its culture, history, and economy, no country is a more natural member of the ‘Russian world’ than Belarus. But over the past two years, no country has done more to demonstrate the weakness of Russian efforts to reestablish hegemony in the post-Soviet space.
Spring 2017 mass protests
The Opposition Is Arguing About Street Tactics – Naviny.by analyses two current tactics of street activities of the Belarusian opposition – sanctioned and unauthorised actions – and concludes: in fact, there is no single solution. If, as a result of proper use of a particular political situation, the action turns out to be really mass, then, regardless of its status, it would become an important event on the political scene.
Situation in the Field of National Security and Defence of Belarus. March 2017 – According to the monthly Belarus Security Blog, the most important event in March was a wave of repression by the authorities, which was characterised by extreme chaos. The Belarusian leader managed to choose the worst from all bad decisions in the field of domestic policy. It jeopardised the prospects for Belarus’ relations with the West.
How Belarusians will rhyme 'Lukashenka, go away!' Next Time? – Naviny.by discuss the situation when Belarus authorities have managed to decrease a wave of street protests, but they do not have a program to make the population’s life normal. Moreover, now the government itself, with its unsuccessful absurd decisions becomes 'the main factor of destabilisation.'
Belarusian Courts Don’t Speak In Belarusian On the Internet – Legal Transformation Centre Lawtrend releases a study, which highlights the current judiciary state and problems of communication of activities on its websites and outlines the possible ways to improve the situation. The researchers hope that the Supreme Court, that is to become a common portal for the entire judicial system, will take into account the study’s recommendations.
Freedom Of Association And Legal Conditions For Non-Commercial Organisations in Belarus in 2016 – Legal Transformation Centre and Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs release an annual review which highlights the most important trends and developments related to the public associations and other forms of civil society in Belarus in 2016. Namely, the authors notice a trend of switching of CSOs to fundraise money inside the country.
Popular Myths About the Belarusian Economy – Grigory Ioffe analyses some common stereotypes of the Belarusian economy. For example, it is true that Belarusian state-run enterprises produce a larger fraction of the country’s gross domestic product compared to its post-Soviet neighbours. However, Belarus significantly outperforms Russia and Ukraine on social indicators such as morbidity, mortality and social infrastructure.
Belarusisation Has Not Ended and Even Increased – Alieh Trusaŭ, Chairperson of the Society of Belarusian language believes that dispersal of Belarusian protests in February and March did not affect Belarusisation – on the contrary, it started to grow: a Belarusian-language band presented the country at the Eurovision Song Contest, the number of hours in the Belarusian in school increased etc.
Public procurement from a single source in Belarus: analysis and recommendations The paper explores legal regulation of procurement from one source and procedures for their conduct, official statistics on public procurement.. Read more
Public procurement from a single source in Belarus: analysis and recommendations. The paper explores legal regulation of procurement from one source and procedures for their conduct, official statistics on public procurement, official information on procurement from a single source and public discussion of the issue. Since procurement from one source is one of the procedures of public procurement, the scope of this research includes legal regulation common for all procedures.
During the analysis of the data the authors also focused on the interrelation of procurement issues from one source with other issues of legal regulation, including antitrust regulation, protection and development of market competition, antidumping policy during tenders and other.
Monetary policy and financial stability in Belarus: current statе, challenges and prospects. This work is devoted to the current state of monetary policy and banking sector of Belarus. The paper shows that in the 4th quarter of 2016 – 1 quarter of 2017 significant changes in the monetary environment took place, the most important of which is the convergence of inflation expectations with actual inflation. Along with this favourable trend, a number of problems of the banking sector continue growing and threatening financial stability. Among them are bad debts and a systemic excess of liquidity in the banking system.
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 and One Belt, One Road, alternative oil, SCTO – Belarus state press digest
At the One Belt, One Road summit in Beijing, Lukashenka suggested that the project could be used not only as a trading route, but also as a basis for promoting ideas and creating joint innovations.
According to foreign minister Vladimir Makei, during its CSTO chairmanship Belarus will focus on positioning the organisation in the international arena and strengthening its interaction with both the UN and the OSCE.
Belarus seeks to diversify its oil supplies, but refuses to mention alternative sources as long as negotiations are underway.
Experts analyse the consequences of flights departing from Minsk being assigned to the international sectors of Russian airports. Moscow introduced this security measure claiming that Belarus's five-day visa-free regime threatens Russian security.
This and more in the new edition of the Belarus State Press Digest.
Belarusian President takes part in the ‘One belt, one road' in Beijing. According to Alexander Lukashenka, this global initiative is not only reshaping the world's economic map and creating new growth points, it also represents a new type of international framework. This means integration designed to harmonise all economic institutions and remove barriers to the free movement of goods, investment, and people.
At the forum, Lukashenka outlined his ideas for deepening and expanding cooperation on the Eurasian continent. In particular, Minsk suggested using the One Belt, One Road structure not only as a trading route, but also as a basis for promoting ideas and creating joint innovations. The Chinese-Belarusian Great Stone Industrial Park could serve as a model.
The Belarusian leader also held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chairman of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, and Chairman of the Board of the Chinese Corporation CITIC Group Chang Zhenming, reports Belarus Segodnia.
High-level Chinese officials visit Belarus. Over the past few weeks, Minsk hosted a number of high-ranking Chinese officials. Most notable was a parliamentary delegation headed by Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the third most powerful man in the Chinese hierarchy. This level of political contact is evidence of the authenticity of the strategic partnership between the two countries, writes The Minsk Times.
Currently, Belarus is implementing over 30 investment projects financed by Chinese loans, worth circa $6bn. The Great Stone Industrial Park is the largest of them. Lukashenka insists that only high-tech companies with guaranteed sales markets should become residents of the park. Currently, eight residents are registered within the park, including China Merchants Group, Huawei, and ZTE. An imbalance in Belarusian-Chinese trade, however, is raising concern within the Belarusian government. In 2016 it exceeded $2.5bn.
Makei: Belarus will never abandon Russia or threaten neighbouring states. Soyuznoe Veche published quotes from Belarusian foreign minister Uladzimir Makei concerning Belarus-Russia integration. Makei is sure that integration will continue to deepen despite attempts by third parties to destroy them for profit. During its CSTO chairmanship, Belarus will attempt to strengthen the organisation's weight in the world in several areas.
The first is more precise coordination of foreign policy activity. The second is stronger positioning of the CSTO in the international arena and increased interaction with the UN and the OSCE. The minister also commented on concerns from western countries regarding the upcoming military drills West 2017. Some fear Russia is preparing an attack on neighbouring states. However, Belarus has never threatened anyone and will certainly not start now. The country contributes to the stability and security of the region.
Belarus seeks to diversify its oil supplies. Respublica interviewed the Chairman of the oil concern Belnaftachim, Ihar Liašenka. Over the past 20 years, the concern's production volume has tripled in dollar equivalent. The concern accounts for about 20 percent of industrial production and a third of Belarusian exports. Recently, it has experienced a difficult period due to supply shortage during the Belarus-Russia oil and gas dispute. However, it has also gained experience, which it is taking into account as it forms a long-term development strategy.
Recent disagreements forced the concern to look closely at the possibility of sourcing oil from other regions. The chairman underlines that diversification is conducted not against Russia's interest, but serves as an airbag for the economic sustainability of any industry. He refused to name any country or ways Belarus could receive the alternative oil, as negotiations are underway and their content remains a trade secret.
Experts analyse the consequences of flights originating from Minsk being assigned to the international sectors of Russian airports. Russians have been carrying out border control of aircraft and passengers arriving from and departing for Belarus since 15 May. Flights from Minsk have been transferred to the international sector of Russian airports. Previously they had been treated like domestic flights, writes Belarus Segodnia.
Passengers will now have to show their boarding pass and ID. The Minsk airport and Belavia have made clear that how passengers will be treated in Belarus has not changed, despite new rules in Russia.
Russification was the result of the industrialisation of Belarus, not Russian politics. Zviazda spoke with famous Belarusian historian and senator of the Council of the Republic Ihar Marzaliuk about the reason why nationalism failed to take hold in Belarus. Belarus is a link between East and West with inherent national and confessional tolerance. Belarus was the only country in Europe where anti-Semitism did not emerge.
The Absolute Communist Supreme Council of the 11th Convocation elaborated a soft and very precise law on the revival of the Belarusian language. The entire ruling elite, understanding the delicacy and complexity of the problem, supported it. However, the nationalist faction in the council of the 12th convocation did immense harm to it, albeit in a Bolshevik manner.
Russification came to Belarus not from Russia, but as a result of the industrialisation of Belarus in the postwar period. Given the multinational nature of the USSR, the intelligentsia used Russian as the language of mass communication, which was also scientifically more advanced.
The state press digest is based on review of state-controlled publications in Belarus. Freedom of the press in Belarus remains restricted and state media convey primarily the point of view of the Belarusian authorities. This review attempts to give the English-speaking audience a better understanding of how Belarusian state media shape public opinion in the country.