We Need to Destroy ‘Moscow’ in Belarusian Minds – Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Belarusian scholars devoted significant attention to the structure and of the Belarusian society and what drives local democracy and motivation of Belarusians. 

New edition of Belarus Headlines. The VIII issue of Belarus Headlines commemorates the one year anniversary of prominent Belarusian political scholar Vitali Silitski’s passing. Dr Silitski served as academic director of BISS and left a profound legacy for Belarusian political science. In this issue Belarusian and Western experts share their memories of Vitali as a person and reflect on the relevance of his works today.

We Need to Destroy ‘Moscow’ in Belarusians’ Minds – Uladzimir Matskevich, philosopher and methodologist, specified the terms used under his Cultured Politics program, and summed up some results of the program’s activity during a public lecture under the "Urbi et Orbi" series. He reminded about the main thesis – "To think Belarus", as well as about the key categories, which are to use within the framework of the Cultured Politics: "politics", "culture", "to think / to conceive", "Belarus".

Sociological Study on the Composition of the Belarusian Society – a new policy study by Dr. Anaïs Marin was requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs. Building on the results of independent sociological surveys, this study tries to assess the worldviews, social needs and dividing lines among Belarusian society ahead of the 2012 legislative elections. It critically reviews the EU’s 'dual track' policy and instruments and calls for adopting a new strategy to draw the country closer to the EU while circumventing its authoritarian leadership. The study advocates a more inclusive approach of neighbourhood relations, allowing for mutually beneficial cooperation for the sake of modernising and hopefully democratising Belarus.

Civil Sector in Belarus – Everyday Life and Organizational Processes – Vital Silicki wrote this article as part of the integrated study “Belarus’ NGO Sector: Potential for Change,” conducted by a research team at the commission of several Belarusian NGOs from 2005 through 2009. The author is looking for answers to the question how the civil community in Belarus is capable of promoting democratic changes in society in the context of the idea of civil society’s self-value as the “fire keeper” and bearer of social spirit, whose experience, values and capital will catalyse transformations in Belarus under the right circumstances.

Is There Any Future For the Idea of “Local Democracy”? – Ulad Vialichka, the chairman of the international consortium "EuroBelarus", considers about the prospect of the idea of ​​"local democracy" based on his participation in the General Assembly of the Association of Local Democracy Agencies (June 7-8, Italy). In particular, the expert notes that "Belarus is now very far from implementing the idea of ​​local democracy. But if we want to change our life for the better, we need to think and act".

In Belarus We Have Something To Fight For – Alexander Stelmakh, the director of Onliner.by, talks about his life philosophy and political views. Among his most bright quotations are the following: “Lukashenka is not the reason, but a result”; “If you don’t like your salary – work more”; “People must understand that before the fight for European values and human rights starts, they need to figure out what they want, how they make money, what they are doing; and get rid of the feeling that someone owes them a job, a salary, an apartment and a loan”.

Special Issue on the Future of Belarus – the Pan-European Institute publishes a quarterly discussion forum, Baltic Rim Economies, which focuses on the development of the Baltic Sea Region. The Special Issue on the Future of Belarus, published on June 19, includes a number of articles by Belarusian and foreign analysts: David R. Marples, Alexander Brakel, Sergey Kizima, Torbjörn Becker, Alexander Chubrik, etc.

Review-Chronicle of Human Rights Violations in Belarus in May 2012 (in English) – Human Rights CentreViasna has issued its monthly review of human rights violations in Belarus. The experts note that May did not bring any positive changes in the human rights situation in general and the situation of political prisoners in particular.

How the Belarusians Treat the Trade Unions – in May 2012, Zerkalo Nedeli polling agency conducted a trade union survey. In particular, 50% of Belarusians are not members of any trade union, while 43% are members of the official Federation. Only 3% of respondents said they were members of an independent union. Only 7% of members of independent trade unions are unsatisfied, more or less, with how the union is protecting their interests; the share of unsatisfied Federation members is 46%.

Economic Development of Belarus in January-May 2012 (audio) – Yaroslav Romanchuk, Analytical Center "Strategy", and Anton Boltochko, the Liberal Club (the CASE Program on PRIMUS) sum up the results the economic development of Belarus for the first five months of 2012. In particular, experts note the trends of the inflationary failure with insufficiently tight monetary policy, as well as growth in retail trade by 7.7% with falling of real disposable per capita income by 0.1%.

Belarus: Scenarios of a Common Future – the Cytadel project presents the verbatim and audio report of the round table which took place on May 24, in Minsk. Participants come from different ideological positions (Eurasian, West-Rusizm, Liberal), but trying to find common points for the successful development of Belarus.

Belarus is Interested in Development of Legislation on Charity – Olga Smolianko, the director of the Legal Transformation Center, comments the National program for international technical cooperation in 2012-2016, approved on May 4, 2012. The National program contains 114 project suggestions, characteristics of international technical assistance projects, submitted by republican state bodies and other interested actors for 411,5 million USD.

Analytical Paper. May 2012 – Belarusian Security Blog released its monthly analytical paper which states the weakening of the stability of Belarusian state. The experts believe that it is connected with increase of systemic problems in public administration, defence, and foreign politics in the absence of clear leadership plan to correct the situation.

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.

The Dialogue Delusion – Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Last week Belarusian analysts were busy discussing Lukashenka's proposal to negotiate with his opponents and the West on how to combat the crises in Belarus. A few days following his proposal Lukashenka said he never meant to discuss anything with the opposition, he only wanted to talk to the West. 

Uladzimir Matskevich: What Should We Understand Today? Uladzimir Matskevich talks about Lukashenka’s proposal for a dialogue with the opposition. He believes that Lukashenka has not offered anything concrete and will try to deceive everyone once again.

Why are Political Cases Disontinued? Andrei Yegorov, Director of the Centre for European Transformation, notes that Lukashenka releases political prisoners to improve the foreign and domestic context of relations with other countries. Unfortunately, Belarusian civil society and its political opposition have no effect on this process.

The Form, Content, Reason and Purpose of Lukashenka's Statements. Anatoly Sidarevich calls Lukashenka’s proposal for dialogue a "bare declaration," "demagogic gesture," "trial balloon". The analyst believes that "Lukashenka suggested a round table in order to once again mislead the West and get money for his regime's support".

Roundtable: Is Delukashenization possible? Andrei Dynko believes that Belarusian intellectuals should support the round table proposed by Lukashenka and encourage the opposition to participate in it. The important issue for its success is the following: “civil society will gain something positive only if it combines discussions at the round table with the mobilization of protest activity”.

The "round table" may have many sharp edges. Political scholar Andrei Yegorov, ex-presidential candidates Uladzimir Neklyayeu and Rygor Kastusyou, and economist Stanislav Bogdankevich believe that it is premature to speak about a dialogue with the authorities. "After all, nothing prevents Lukashenka from going back on his word tomorrow. Moreover the proposal itself is very vague".

The Yield on a Single Course: Problems, Challenges and Prospects. Alena Rybkina (Agency of Political Analysis) analyzes the governmental package of measures designed to stabilize the foreign exchange market in Belarus over the next month or two. She concludes that the prospects of achieving a single course are still unclear. At the same time the confusion and lack of professionalism of the top officials have become increasingly apparent.

Crisis Plan for Belarus: Action Packages #1-4. Ex-presidential candidate and economist Yaraslau Ramanchuk offers his exit plan from the economic crisis in Belarus: packet #1 “price stability and the elimination of the trade deficit”, #2 “monetary policy, the elimination of the currency shortage”, #3 “fiscal policy”, #4 “tax policy”.

Belarus: testing ground for donors. Pavol Demes, Senior Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund, calls Belarus “a donor desert”. He urges the application of the forgotten underground methods of assistance because open support may result in prosecution of civil society activists. He also highlights the importance of monitoring the effectiveness of foreign aid delivery in the conditions when many democratic and civil society groups are "illegal" in Belarus. 


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.