No Single Opposition Candidate for Presidential Elections?-Belarus Civil Society Digest
Who constitutes a 'new majority'? What is the 'Civil Agreement on Change' about? – campaign Tell the Truth! presented its strategy for the next local and presidential elections.
The civil society organised numerous educational opportunities and events for Belarusians. Among them was the meeting with Štefan Füle, the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, who talked about the role of the civil society in the dialogue with Brussels.
The state-run Public Administration Academy organised the training conference on the ‘Social Responsibility of Entrepreneurship’. Number of experts from the non-profit organisations participated in the event.
Civil Society Campaigns and Activities
Tell the Truth! launches a new strategy. The movement Tell the Truth! is launching a Civil Agreement on Change strategy that is aimed at creating a "change agenda" based on the interests of a "new majority". The movement is ready to unite local leaders and help them become politicians the authorities cannot ignore. The movement also announced its decision to withdraw for the time being from all talks about the nomination of a single presidential contender to represent opposition forces in the 2015 election.
On 21 February the International Mother Language Day was held in Belarus. BelaPAN made infographics, which shows that in 2012-2013, the Belarusian language learning is used only by 11.4% pre-school children, 16.4% school pupils, and 0.2% higher education students. This day, sculptor Henik Loika who staged a picket in support of the Belarusian language, was sentenced to five days of administrative arrest.
Historical board game Rebels. The Rebels is the first Belarusian board game in which one can immerse oneself in the atmosphere of 1863 and become a famous historical figure or a simple Belarusian and influence the historical events. The game involves from 6 to 20 people. The initiative to create the game belongs to the Grodno young poet Anton Jankowski and a designer Nastassia Lukashkova.
Meeting with Füle. On 20 February in Brussels, the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with eight representatives of Belarusian civil society, the coordinators of the European Dialogue on Modernisation with Belarusian society. Commissioner Füle stressed the importance of support to civil society in Belarus as a matter of priority for the EU.
Ponimanie and SOS-Kinderdorf’s joint project. On 25 February the first working meeting of a new joint project of Hermann Gmeiner’s Fund, Belarusian Fund SOS Children’s Villages and the INGO “Ponimanie” took place. The project Safe Families for Children Suffered from Violence or Neglect is aimed at ensuring secure family environment and eradicating violence towards children and at professional advancement of specialists who work in the sphere of prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Educational Courses and Trainings
BAJ education courses. Belarusian Association of Journalists invites to a number of its education courses – COOL’ture (cultural) analyst to create cultural texts in various genres; Creating Video from A to Z: the video for photojournalists to prepare photojournalists to work with video; and Investigative Journalism for professional journalists.
Call for students. Centre for Student Initiatives Development announces call for ideas from students who want to realize their projects in the following areas: the rights and interests of students, the development of the student self-government, the issues of students, the quality of education. The deadline for applications is 5 March 2013.
The Academy of the First-2013 invited for participation representatives of Belarusian CSOs and initiatives. The long term education course consists of five trainings, home tasks, and educational projects. The purpose of the Academy is to prepare democratic youth leaders who will take an active part in the life of their organisations and communities. The meeting took place on 28 February in Minsk.
Call for applications for the Week of Sustainable Development 2013. The call for proposals invites to participate in the Week of Sustainable Development, to be held on 20-28 April 2013. This year slogan is Partnership in Action. The organisers of the Week are Minsk International Educational Center, Support Program for Belarus and non-profit institution New Eurasia. The Week invites to cooperation national and local governments, CSOs, businesses associations, international organisations and diplomatic missions.
Expert meeting on higher education. On 12 February an in-country expert meeting dedicated to the post-soviet states' experience in adoption the Bologna principles in higher education took place in Minsk. Belarusian experts had a chance to meet Taras Finikov, a former Ukrainian Deputy-Minister for Education and Science. The Minsk-based Office for European Expertise and Communication was among the organisers of the event.
Environmental School for Trainers. On 8-10 March the School of environmental activist focused on training of young trainers of green movement is to be launched. The course is designed for proactive people, CSOs' members who have experience of civil activities and ready to provide training and educational programs in the field of environmental protection.
EESC announces training. East European Studies Centre announces a professional development opportunity for young Belarusian researchers under the Belarus Research Council initiative. 20 selected analysts from Belarus will attend a training in May 2013 in Vilnius.
Civil Society and Art
Life After Prison. The new book by publicist Aliaksandr Tamkovich Life After Prison will be presented on February 26. The book consists of 27 articles, which tell about what happened in the lives of the participants of the tragic events of 19 December 2010, who served short prison terms for participating in the so-called “riots”.
Simple Words documentary. A new documentary film Simple Words was made for the International Mother Language Day, 21 February. The non-profit project tells about young Belarusians who speak Belarusian every day. The authors of the film note that the entire budget went to a cocktail of strawberry, blue pen and phone calls to municipal services.
Art-journalist School. A non-profit institution Art-Siadziba launched a short term School of Art journalist for young, active and creative people to learn working in the field of journalism. Thus, Art-Siadziba plans to form a team, which is to become the editorial team of the portal Art Siadziba Online. According the belngo.info newsletter
Festival of Central European literature Shengenka. The First Festival of Central European Literature Shengenka will take place in March, at the Minsk Gallery Ў. The Festival gives an opportunity to get acquainted with the literary and philosophical works of Central Europe. The project initiator is Laboratory of Science and Art Translation, co-organizers are the campaign Budzma Belarusians! and the Association of Belarusian Writers.
Visor Raised award. On 22 February, the special jury is to announce the winner of the Yury Zakharanka annual memorial award With Visor Raised. This year, for the first time ever the prize is awarded to a female human rights defender, Raisa Mikhailouskaya. The ceremony is held during the evening of memory of former Interior Minister, missing politician, Yury Zakharanka.
SYMPA at the state-run conference. On 26 February at the Presidential Academy of Management, a scientific and practical training conference Social Responsibility of Entrepreneurship' took place. Experts BIPART/ SYMPA Natalia Ryabova and Vladimir Kovalkin made a report Ethics in the Public Service. The conference was attended by members of the Parliament, researchers of the scientific, educational and social institutions, a group of SYMPA experts and trainees, etc.
Sixth World Congress of Belarusians. The World Association of Belarusians Batskaushczyna (Homeland) invites to the 6th World Congress of Belarusians, aimed to promote the unity of the nation, the strengthening of ties between the Belarusians from different countries, as well as help in solving common issues. The 6th Congress titled The Belarusian nation and globalization: challenges and opportunities will be held on 23-24 July in Minsk.
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.