ePramova, Mova Nanova, Local Elections Observation - Belarus Civil Society Digest

A new online platform ePramova invites Belarusians to discuss public issues with politicians and civil society activists. Its users can ask any question and watch videos of politicians answering them on the website.

How the Belarusian experts see the situation in Ukraine? International Consortium EuroBelarus and Belarusian National Platform organised a roundtable in Minsk ‘Ukraine today: what we can and should do in the current situation?’.

A web site Nazirannie2014.spring96.org aims at involving the Belarusians who are interested in election observation.

Campaigns and projects

New discussion platform ePramova launched. The European Humanities University announces its participation in the launch of a new online platform called ePramova. ePramova is designed to encourage Belarusian citizens to become more actively involved in raising and discussing public issues that are important to them. The ePramova platform allows users to pose questions for political parties, political leaders, and civic organisations to answer. Filmed responses can be uploaded online.

Mova Nanova goes to regions. On 10 March Belarusian language free courses Mova Nanova/ Language in a New Way were held in Gomel and attended by about 30 people. On 14 March Mova Nanova launched its courses in Hrodna. Earlier the civil initiative opened its branch in Babrujsk. Thus, the organisers extend the concept of non-academic study of the Belarusian language through interactive teaching methods outside Minsk, where classes are very popular and attended by 200-300 fellows weekly.

Human rights defenders launch an interactive web resource for election observers. Nazirannie2014.spring96.org site not only includes detailed instructions on how to become an observer and to behave properly at the polling station, but also the unusual stories that happened with observers during previous campaigns. The new interactive platform of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" is aimed at involving the Belarusians who are interested in election observation.

Interactive platform Electby.org renewed its work. The platform of civic monitoring Electby.org allows anyone to put on an interactive map violations recorded during the 2014 local elections campaign – campaign oddities, the pressure on democratic candidates and activists, the manipulation with ballots, etc. One can submit evidence and add his/her point on the map through the website, e-mail, Twitter or SMS.

Seminars and discussions

Seminar on CSOs' financial stability. On 29 March in Minsk, ICNL together with the Centre for Legal Transformation and the Assembly of democratic NGOs organise a seminar Financial stability of CSOs: international experience and perspective for Belarus. The event aims to present the Belarusian and international legal expertise to ensure the financial stability of CSOs, as well as to discuss practical issues of fundraising within the country and abroad. The seminar is open to all interested CSOs.

Budzma's spring discussions. The cultural campaign Budzma! invites to a series of spring offline talk shows dedicated to the discussion of the interaction of culture and society. Every week the Minsk creative space THEKH will gather experts, researchers and celebrities to discuss the culture of ‘being actual’ (on 18 March), the culture of philanthropy (on 26 March), the culture of partnership (on 1 April), etc.

Research on visa intermediaries in Belarus. On 13 March Minsk hosted a roundtable Visa mediation in Belarus: How to reduce costs of Schengen visas for Belarusians. The BISS analyst Andriej Jelisejeu and the independent expert Julija Muryhyna presented preliminary findings of their research Some aspects of the visa intermediaries in Belarus. In their presentation the experts raised the issues of regulation of visa mediation by EU legislation and established practice of such mediation in Belarus.

Social Entrepreneur course from Talaka.by. From 18 March an innovative training course Social Entrepreneur has been opened for registration. The course is organised by Talaka.by initiative and aims at comprehensive training of social entrepreneurs who will be able to implement social projects in Belarus. Twenty best students will be given an opportunity to present their projects to potential investors. At the moment already 190 people signed up for participation.

Euromaidan from Belarusian perspective. Roundtable ‘Ukraine today: what we can and should do in the current situation?’ was held in on 14 March in Minsk. The discussion was organised by International Consortium EuroBelarus and Belarusian National Platform. The participants suggested creating a position of a special rapporteur within the National Platform to monitor the situation in Ukraine and offer quick response actions if necessary.

BAJ Statement on violence against journalists in the Crimea. On 12 March the Board of the Belarusian Association of Journalists adopted a statement which claims that a situation when journalists are prevented from performing professional duties is inadmissible. BAJ calls on all people and organizations involved in the conflict to put an end to the violence and to ensure normal conditions for journalists work.

‘Green’ events

Nature protection in an urban environment. That is the title of a new project launched by Brest regional branch of APB BirdLife Belarus. The project aims to preserve bio diversity in Brest, improving knowledge residents in the field of ecology and environmental protection, the introduction of interactive methods for Brest schools and institutions. The project is to create a unique complex interactive training program of environmental education in the urban environment.

Online monitoring of biodiversity. APB-BirdLife Belarus NGO launched an online database on monitoring areas important for biodiversity conservation, namely, areas important for birds. Now anyone can learn the data collected and use it both for professional purposes and general guidance. Any user can contribute to the map and thus help to collect information on the areas important for birds, monitor their condition, as well as join to the solution of potential threats.

School of Environmental Activist announces a call for fellows for 2014. The idea of the School is through a series of trainings to develop ecological thinking and expand the "green" movement in Belarus. Organised by Green Alliance, an annual school provides practical skills and offers its fellows to design and implement eco-projects or have internships in other Belarusian CSOs. Deadline for applications is 29 March.

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.

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