Ukrainians Trust Lukashenka The Most, Luring in US Business – Belarus State TV Digest
Belarusian state TV showed the Belarusian leader directly blamed Americans for plotting the present military conflict in Ukraine. On another occasion, state TV journalists reported on the benefits of bringing more American business to Belarus.
Belarus is faring better than the USA or Russia – or so state-run media journalists report when covering the recent rankings of healthcare systems by Bloomberg. They explained that its accessibility and equality, despite the financial situation of Belarusian patients, make the healthcare system unique when compared to other countries.
This and more in Belarus State TV Digest.
Ukrainians trust Lukashenka the most – according to a survey carried out in August by the Ukrainian research centre “Rating”, Lukashenka is the most beloved of international leaders. Journalists from Belarus state TV noted that 62% of Ukrainian respondents showed a positive attitude towards Alexander Lukashenka. 54% of respondents favoured Barack Obama versus 51% arguing for Angela Merkel.
Americans are behind the Ukrainian crisis? – Lukashenka suggested in an interview to the Russian state-run Channel 1 that the US was responsible for the developments in Ukraine. The journalist noted that the recent activity of Lukashenka managed to improve the image of Belarus and its leader in the international politics. The Belarusian leader charged Americans and some Ukrainian politicians with causing the Russian-Ukrainian turmoil. The only force interested in “pushing us in to this struggle” is "Uncle Sam", he stated.
Invalid East-West division of the Ukrainian society. Lukashenka also added that there is no "aggressive division in the Ukrainian nation between the West and East". He noted that the Western part of both Belarus and Ukraine are in general more nationalistic and more-Western oriented. "(…) But it does not mean they want to live in Poland or in the West”, Lukashenka explained to the interviewer.
A Youth Chamber in Belarusian parliament? – During a recent youth forum, organised by the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM), an idea to have a separate Youth Chamber was proposed. High profile politicians, such as Lidzija Jermoshyna, attended the event. A journalist for the state TV channel commented that such youth chamber could be well be just “one more initiative for the new generation to articulate its ideas, and to be heard”. The leader of the youth association Union also pointed out the necessity of attracting more young people to state bodies and institutions.
World Bank delegation comes to Minsk: a "constructive visit". Alexander Lukashenka met with the World Bank’s vice-president, Laura Tuck. He raised the issue of roads in Belarus. “The World Bank understands that Belarus is a transit country and therefore the efficiency of economies of both the East and West depends on what the roads will are like here”, Lukashenka argued. Reporters noted that Laura Tuck praised the development of Belarus, but also mentioned the necessity of reforms. “We know how to listen and implement recommendations” – a journalist comments at the end of the report.
Housing for every Belarusian? A story on improving Minsk's infrastructure and housing was another item to make the national news. The coverage displayed citizens of Minsk who were more than happy to comment on the opening of new schools and swimming pools. However, as the anchor noted, the facilities for the inhabitants are not being built at the same speed throughout the city.
The Belarusian Supreme Court rules against Belsat TV. BTR covered a court ruling that banned the use of the name “Belsat” for a Warsaw-based Belarusian independent TV channel. According to the report, Belsat violated the copyright of a Belarusian businessman who owns a company that employs the name “Belsat Plius”. It also note that similar cases are found elsewhere in the world on a fairly regular basis.
“Traditional and accessible healthcare system in Belarus". Belteleradio Channel 1 covered Bloomberg's ranking of healthcare systems throughout the world, with Belarus being ranked 43, achieving a higher standing than both America and Russia. “Everyone, regardless of their financial situation or social status, are equal when they come to the doctors' office”, she added.
Belarus attractive to American business. State TV reported on a recent Belarusian-American Economic Investment Forum that took place in New York. “The meeting can be a good foundation for long-term and potential relations”, according to the report. Americans are interested in doing business in Belarus, according to the opinion of the reporter covering the story, because of Belarus' “success and role in carrying out Eurasian projects, [its] importance in creating a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, the taxation system in Belarus, and political stability” all help draw Americans towards Belarus.
“Dielo principa”: Will the peace in Ukraine be long-lasting?– Was a question directed at the audience during a new political talk show on ONT TV hosted by Vadzim Hihin. During the talk show the audience gathered in a studio also had a chance to react and vote either in favour or against the various positions of the show's guests. Hihin invited politicians from pro-government parties, but also analysts from Ukraine and Russia.
One guest even offered up a conspiracy theory of events explaining that it was the Americans and some forces in the Ukrainian leadership who were interested in "renting out the Black Sea". Their goal of weakening Russia's position, and not the politics of Viktor Yanukovych, were what caused the turbulent events in Ukraine. The Russian and Ukrainian experts agreed that Russia was not interested in making the Donbas a second Transdniestria. “Russia wants to be integrated with Ukraine”, Vadzim Karasyev from Ukraine stated.
The European versus Russian model of development. Maira Moira, the head of the EU Delegation to Belarus, was also a guest-speaker on the talk show. She pointed out that the EU cannot be blamed for the situation in Ukraine. She also disagreed with the Russian analyst, according to whom, Ukraine's fate in Russia, not in the EU. Moira noted that what makes the EU model of development more attractive is the "rule of law", rather than the "rule of power". Covering the debate, the state TV reporter noted that while Maira Moira was talking, the audience gave her the least support.
NATO summit in Newport. Belteleradio covered the recent NATO summit that took place in the United Kingdom. The situation in Ukriane dominated the gathering's agenda. Didier Burkhalter, the president of OSCE, noted, however, that the conflict in the country could not be settled without Russia. The report also noted that the very rhetoric of the summit was far from peaceful. “They decided to establish a rapid reaction force for Europe in Poland”, the report explained. During the gathering various groups, “who had suffered from NATO activities” protested nearby. The Belteleradio Channel 1 journalist covering the story said that the alliance had either indirectly or directly created a number of flash points in the world.
Belarus and Moldova: mutually beneficial relations. Belarusian state TV noted that both countries have found themselves living in a new reality: Belarus becoming a full-fledged member of the Customs Union, and Moldova having signed the Association Agreement with the EU. Actually, the report notes, the association between Moldova and Brussels will also be profitable for Belarus. “Moldova invites Belarus to utilise its free trade zone with the EU”, according to the story. “We will sell goods together to the EU and share the income”, Lukashenka stated during a press conference.
Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials available on the web site of Belarusian State Television 1 (BT1) and ONT TV. 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.
The Mova Cup, Embroidery Day, Hotline Green Phone – Belarus Civil Society Digest
Mova Cup took promoted the use of the Belarusian language trying oneself in various sports. The Embroidery Day will celebrate the Belarusian national dress.
All-Belarusian Congress for Independence scheduled for December. The European Humanities University welcomes new students.
A special hotline Green Phone received over 120 complains from Belarusian citizens regarding the urban environment.
Interaction between the state and civil society
Belarus temporarily restricts ways of crossing the border with Lithuania to cars only, citing lack of capacity. This means no more pedestrian crossing. This decision sums up government-and citizens relations: government does not adapt to citizens demand, it makes citizens adapt to its capacity.
Parliament responds the e-appeals of the citizens. In 2015 Belarus will develop the law ‘On the treatment of animals’; criminal responsibility for cruelty to animals may be introduced already in the next session of Parliament. Such a response is received by the activists of a public campaign 'NO cruelty to animals' on their electronic appeals to the Parliament on the issue of improving the legislation.
Radio Racyja journalist denied accreditation seven times. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the seventh time denied accreditation to Viktar Parfionenka, journalist of the Radio Racyja. For the last semester, several journalists have been held accountable for contributing to Belsat and Radio Racyja; penalties include warnings and pretty huge fines.
Mova Cup. On 28 September Minsk hosted the National Sports Festival Mova Cup/Language Cup. Everyone was invited to try oneself at various sports, wherein communicate in Belarusian. Front persons of the Festival were stars of Belarusian sports, including the famous swimmer Alexandra Herasimenya.
Embroidery Day. On 5 October for the first time the Embroidery Day will be held in Minsk. The festival is intended to show that the Belarusian national dress is stylish and noticeable. At the event, visitors will be able to buy clothes and other items with some features of traditional Belarusian culture, play Belarusian games, listen to the music bands, etc.
The second European Intercultural Festival sums up the results. This year the 2nd European Intercultural Festival in September was held under a slogan ‘Getting to know each other better’. During 10 days of exhibitions, movie and photo shows, discussions and lectures, master-classes and presentations in Minsk, Grodno, Mogilev and Brest hundreds of participants united by the Festival had a chance to learn more about the culture of Belarus, Germany, Georgia, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and other countries.
Hotline Green Phone received more than 120 complaints on the urban environment. On 16-20 September a special hotline Green Phone worked as part of the international campaign Mobility Week. According to the results, the Belarusian city residents call the following top 3 most actual urban environmental problems: parking in green areas and playgrounds (about 90% of all calls), the lack of green areas in the courtyards and the absence of a barrier-free environment.
Green Forum was held in Grodno on 27 September. CSOs, representatives of government agencies and environmental activists were invited. The agenda included discussions on the most pressing environmental issues and presentations of environmental events and campaigns implemented in the Grodno region. The Forum was planned to result in making a map of regional environmental issues as well as meeting organisations and activists for their further cooperation. The organiser was Green Alliance network.
The annual United Students of Belarus (USB) Rally will take place in Lithuania on 1-5 October 2014. Organised by the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, the USB Rally is an opportunity to meet Belarusian youth studying around the world, as well as to join the informal international network of Belarusians. The 8th USB Rally is devoted to the development of multicultural dialogue in attempt to establish a reciprocal conversation with other cultures, develop an open and active society through development of Belarusian identity.
School of trainer skills. In October-November 2014, training Centre of the portal Kariera.by together with partner organisations in Minsk (Business Club IMAGURU), Brest (Brest Regional Development Fund) and Grodno (VIT NGO) opens groups on basic education in 'School of trainer skills’. The aim of the course is to prepare participants for independent work as trainers using the principles, content and methods of non-formal education.
Pilot Art Leader School will start in October in Minsk. A unique international educational project of the Centre for Visual and Performing ArtsART CORPORATION aims to attract young leaders to shaping the cultural space of the country, as well as develop their skills for the implementation of art projects at a high international level. Representatives of all art professions under the age of 35 years with their own project ideas in the field of theatre or cinema are invited to participate.
EHU welcomes nearly 400 new students. Three hundred ninety-two new students will begin their studies at European Humanities University (EHU) this fall. On Tuesday, 30 September an official ceremony opening Academic Year 2014-15 will be held on campus in Vilnius. More than 95% of the new students are from Belarus, with the rest hailing from countries that include Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan.
Journalistic competition 'Choose Life'. Belarusian Association of Journalists, Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Penal Reform International announce a call for journalistic materials on the subject of the death penalty. Materials are accepted until 30 September.
Contest ‘People's journalist – 2014’. Project People’s journalist announces a new competition of materials from the citizens of Belarus. The aim of the competition is to include people in the joint activities, so they can see that together can achieve results and solve specific problems. Among the criteria for the best materials are topics that will not be released in the official media, Belarusian language as the main, etc. Materials are accepted until 15 October.
All-Belarusian Congress for Independence to be held in December. Academician Radzim Garetsky, Professor Mikola Savitsky, writer Uladzimir Arlou, director Uladzimir Kolas and prof. Mikhail Pastukhou joined the organising committee headed by Alena Anisim, deputy chairperson of the Belarusian Language Society. According to the organisers, the ground for the congress is related to an agreement on the Eurasian Economic Union that carries a direct threat to the independence of Belarus.
Alternative CSO report at OSCE HDIM side event. On 26 September representatives of the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs together with the Legal Transformation Centre held a side event in the frames of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2014 in Warsaw. The side event focused on the presentation of the alternative report on the freedom of association and legal status of CSOs in Belarus, which was prepared by Belarusian CSOs in the frames of the second UN Universal Periodic Review cycle.
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.