Russia Would Rather Cut Pensions than Subsidies to Belarus – Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Belarusian experts discussed Russian subsidies, economic reforms, which the government will have to implement and the challenges of their implementation. Other topics include human rights violations in July-September, coverage of the 2015 presidential elections in state media and the state of the third sector in Belarus. 

Foreign policy analysis covers relations with Eurasia and the European Union as well as decisions of the European Court of Justice on targeted sanctions also covered. All this and more in this issue of Digest of Belarusian Analytics. 

Economy

Andrei Molchan: Russia Would Rather Reduce Pensions to Pensioners than Subsidies to Belarus – Online magazine Ideaby under the Kastryčnicky Economic Forum KEF-2015 presents a video version of a public lecture of Andrei Molchan, the head of the economic program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. KEF-2015 was held on November 3-4, in Minsk and brought together more than 300 participants and about 30,000 online viewers. KEF 2015 related publications received over 2.5 million views via media.

Six Reform Steps in Belarus Proposed by Economy Ministry – The "road map" of structural reforms was presented by First Deputy Economy Minister Aliaksandr Zabarouski at Kastryčnicky Economic Forum in Minsk. The points include ensuring the macroeconomic balance; increasing efficiency in the allocation of financial resources; reducing the role of government in the economy; the increase in jobs in the private sector; the development of the labor market and strengthening social protection systems, and formation of efficient commodity markets and financial services markets.

Macroeconomic Problems of Belarus: It will be Different This Time – Economist Dmitry Kruk discusses stereotypes that have emerged in the past 7-8 years during discussing economic policy and argues that the situation has changed greatly. Now Belarus is in a unique situation when structural reforms are beneficial not only for the long term, but short-term prospects. The material is prepared in the framework of the KEF-2015 conference. See also an infographics piece for the IPM research What Reforms Business Expects, created by IdeaBy journal.​

Unemployment insurance will not save. Alexander Chubrik, Research Centre IPM, analyzes the unemployment insurance system discussed by Belarusian authorities. Chubrik argues why this system is problematic and its introduction in Belarus is inexpedient.

Civil Society and the State

Monitoring: The Coverage of the 2015 Presidential Election in the Belarusian Media (Final Report) – The Belarusian Association of Journalists releases the final report on the coverage of the 2015 presidential election in the Belarusian media. One of the key findings is that contrary to the 2010 presidential campaign, this time the state-owned media gave more attention to the election related topics. However, the incumbent still enjoyed a dominant position.

The "Third Sector" is Ready to Become a Reliable Partner for the Government in Reforms, "Just do Not Stifle (video) – For 10 years the Belarusian civil society has become highly professional, its expert opinion is valued around the world, and today in the midst of crisis, the "third sector" can be partner for the state. These points are articulated by guests of a regular Amplituda TUT.by – ecologist Irina Sukhi, Chairperson of the National Platform Svetlana Koroleva, and Chairperson of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak.

Analytical Report on Human Rights in Belarus in July-September – The main purpose of the report is to reflect the situation with basic human rights in Belarus and indicate socio-political and economic factors that influence its development. The human rights situation in Belarus during July through October 2015 was influenced directly and indirectly by the presidential election campaign. The report is the result of cooperation between Belarusian human rights organizations.

Third Sector: Progress, Regress, or Stability? – The topic of a new program Black and White, TV channel Belsat, is dedicated to discussion what active citizens can do in a passive society; how citizenship starts and how to develop it, etc. The guests in the studio are Max Hedin, a specialist in the promotion of the Grazhdanstvennost.by project, and Ivan Vedenin, creative director of Talaka.by platform.

Foreign Policy

Belarus' Balancing Act. Lukashenko Looks West – And East – Andrew Wilson, a Professor at University College London and the author of Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship, suggests an answer, what the difference between presidential elections of 2010 and 2015. In the first case thousands protested in the capital city of Minsk, and the EU and the United States imposed harsh sanctions on Belarus. This year only 100 protesters turned out for a brief demonstration. The EU promptly announced that it would suspend most sanctions for four months. So what changed? In a word: Ukraine.

Eurasian Review №6 – BISS presents the sixth issue of the Eurasian Review, which analyzes the processes of Eurasian integration. Over the past few months, Eurasian integration was marked by a series of significant developments. In August, Kyrgyzstan became a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The main feature of the issue is the lobbying capabilities of Belarus in the EEU.​

The Court of Justice of the EU: Chyzh Plays Hockey with Lukashenko, So What? – Andrei Yeliseyeu, BISS, describes a case when the Court of Justice of the EU has made it clear to the Council of the EU’ lawyers that they need to provide more cogent arguments why sanctions must be imposed on Belarusian citizens and companies. The EU’s legislative branch requires incontrovertible evidence of mutually beneficial connections between Belarusian tycoons and the country’s political regime; implicit arguments are insufficient.

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.




Enterpeneurs Ready to Protest, Public Discussions in Minsk – Belarus Civil Society Digest

IDEA is organising a discussion of Ukrainian events in Minsk. European Cafe hosts public lectures by European intellectuals.

Minister of Culture of Belarus, Boris Svietlau handed Fond of Ideas an honorary diploma for organising an exhibition and significant contribution to the development of modern Belarusian art.

Legal Transformation Centre (Lawtrend) presents the 5th edition of the quarterly electronic overview of significant events in the field of Internet freedom, protection of personal data and access to information in Belarus.

Discussions on Belarus

Panel discussion in Minsk. On 25 June IDEA Belarus global magazine invites to the panel discussion devoted to the situation in Belarus in the wake of Ukrainian crisis. Panelists will discuss lessons and consequences of the conflict in Ukraine for Belarus. Among the speakers are Andrej Dyńko, Nasha Niva newspaper, Siarhiej Kizima, PhD, and Aliaksandr Lahviniec, the "Movement for Freedom". The event will take place at the Minsk hotel "Europe".

European Café continues hosting public lectures. On 11 June the European Cafe: Open Space in Europe project hosted a public lecture of an Estonian researcher, Dimitri Mironov on transformation of higher education from Soviet to European standards. On 17-18 June political analyst from& Lithuania Gintautas Mažeikis delivered public lectures on the crisis of European humanism in post-Soviet space in Minsk and Viciebsk. A series of public lectures by well-known European scientists is implemented by the Centre for European Studies.

Food for Thought Event in Brussels. The Office for a Democratic Belarus and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies invite to the Food for Thought event entitled 'Why Belarus is different'. Dzianis Melyantsou, Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies and Siarhei Bogdan, Belarus Digest will contribute to the discussion why Belarus is different from the other Eastern European countries; whether the strategic importance of the country changes in view of the Ukraine events. The discussion is to take place on 23 June in Brussels.

Really Free Market-2: come and take free! On 15 June the Minsk venue CECH hosted the second Free Fair that is a real alternative to existing market relations based on mutual assistance and cooperation, according to the organisers. Visitors can bring their things and take others' what they need for free. Throughout the day, the Fair will be accompanied by a DJ and closed with a concert.

Education

Recommendations on the inclusion in non-formal education. First time in Belarus, Association for Life Long Education and the Office of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have developed a brochure on inclusion for specialists in the field of non-formal education. The brochure's recommendations will allow the providers of educational services to make their activities more inclusive, ie make non-formal education accessible to people with disabilities.

Vilnius School on Human Rights. Belarusian human rights school, organised by the international community of human rights organisations, announces a call for participation in the Summer School on Human Rights in 2014. Under the program, participants will learn about the history and philosophy of human rights, as well as methods and means to protect them at the national and international levels. Participation in the program arise open for young Belarusians of 18-25 years old, interested in acquiring knowledge in the field of human rights.

Youth:ON leadership course. Youth Educational Centre Fialta invites to participate in the program Youth:ON for leaders of youth organisations and initiatives. The program aims to develop and increase the sustainability of initiatives and organisations working with young people. The program provides thematic training and consultations with local and foreign experts, as well as the Fair of Best Practices.

Belarusian NGOs

Pact is established in Belarus. A new human rights republican public association Movement for the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been established in Belarus. The organisation unites Belarusian citizens on whose complaints the UN Human Rights Committee made or is going to make a decision. A new CSO is to contribute to the execution of Belarus of its international obligations on human rights issues. The organisation has been called "Pact".

e-Lawtrend #5. Legal Transformation Centre (Lawtrend) presents the 5th edition of the quarterly electronic overview of significant events in the field of Internet freedom, protection of personal data and access to information in Belarus. The issue covers the period March-May 2014 and raises such topics as future of Internet governance, manual on Human Rights for the Internet user, new restrictions on access to information in Belarus, an overview of Lawtrend activity, etc.

"Patriot" launched the first ever Belarusian-language website of the fight club. Patriotgym.by resource created in partnership with the cultural campaign Budzma! The new website has been designed to attract to the club talented children who will support senior colleagues fighting traditions. The website's founders also expect that the example of the Belarusian-language website to inspire other sports organisations to actively use national language.

Interaction between state and civil society

Citizens help Viciebsk authorities to celebrate the City Day. On 10 June an open presentation of cultural ideas Fair Projects was held in Viciebsk in a new format – it was held in the official venue of city executive committee and with participation of authorities. The Fair initiated by Budzma cultural campaign is designed to improve and expand the official program of the City Day celebrations. The Fair presented seven projects including Dance open air, Fotosushka, Football freestyle, etc.

Minister of Culture of Belarus, Boris Svietlau handed Fond of Ideas an honorary diploma for organising an exhibition and significant contribution to the development of modern Belarusian art. It comes about the open-air exhibition Avant-gARTe: From Square to Object and One Hundred Years of the Belarusian Vanguard at Yakub Kolas Square in Minsk. More than ten thousand visitors attended the exhibition; its website was visited by more than fifty thousand users.

Officials: Painting Bykau is an ideology issue. Painters were fined for 4.5 million roubles each (about $400) for their attempt to draw Vasil Bykau in the centre of the city. The graffiti on the transformer vault had not been allowed by the city authorities and was removed. The graffiti initiated by the SIGNAL street art community was considered to be dedicated to the writer's 90th anniversary.

Baranavichy entrepreneurs ready to protest in Minsk. Private entrepreneurs want to protest against the changes introduced by Alyaksandr Lukashenka's order #222. The order obliges private entrepreneurs to have documents proving where they bought their products after July 1.

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.