Policy briefs

Tue, 2008-09-30 15:30

On 29 September 2008, the Office for a Democratic Belarus attended the first policy speech of the newly appointed US Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker. The event, entitled ‘Building a Stronger Transatlantic Consensus and a Modern NATO’, was hosted by the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Thu, 2008-09-25 11:16
The free press has virtually disappeared in Belarus and been forced underground. Printing and distribution of newspapers is done by state-controlled firms that have a monopoly. The national post office, Belpochta, has a monopoly on distribution of newspapers to subscribers and can strike a dissident paper off its list at any time.
Mon, 2008-09-15 11:54

by Alastair Rabagliati

The recent release of political prisoners gave rise to the hope that there may also be an improvement in the electoral environment in Belarus. However the non-registration of candidates, following on from earlier harassment of prospective candidates means that the situation remains unchanged in practice from earlier elections. While there is a slight hope that a few opposition people may enter Parliament, there is virtually no remaining doubt that candidates could be freely elected.

Wed, 2008-09-03 11:51
By Dzyanis Melyantsou

The war in Georgia has been a surprising and even shocking event for politicians, diplomats, and observers across the world. The issue is not about human suffering the war produced, but that a small local conflict is capable to modify the whole system of international relations and to provoke substantial geopolitical change. The attempt of Georgia to reintegrate South Ossetia and the subsequent aggression of Russia resulted in a drastic change of Russia’s superpower status. International observers mostly considered Russia as an aggressive force, while the USA called for the exclusion from the G8. In turn, Russia has virtually broken its relations with the NATO. Politicians and experts started to talk about the new ‘Cold War’, while the neighbors of Russia revise their defense doctrines. For the first time after the collapse of the USSR, Russia is on the brink of international isolation. What are the implications for international relations and Russia’s direct neighbors?
Wed, 2008-09-03 11:22

By Vital Silitski

Vital SilitskyIn the span of just four days, from 16th to 19th August 2008, former presidential candidate Alexander Kazulin and two participants of the entrepreneurs’ protests in January, Andei Kim and Siarhej Parsiukievich, where released from jail. This formally brought the number of remaining political prisoners in Belarus to zero. The fulfillment of the foremost demand of the European Union and the United States opened a rare opportunity for normalization of Belarus’ relations with the West. However, as freeing came upon the background of the intensification of the Kremlin’s pressure on Belarus, it can also be a repeat of the blackmailing pattern, when the Belarusian authorities nudge Russia towards a more lenient deals on energy price issues by threatening with ‘normalization’ of relations with the West.  Even so, Russia’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy following the conflict in Georgia may create a deeper set of incentives for the official Minsk to move closer to the West than the mere petty blackmail of Kremlin. In this situation, effective and clearly defined conditionality formulated by both the European Union and the United States may be a key factor promoting positive changes in the country in the near future.

Wed, 2008-09-03 10:46

By David Marples

One of the interesting features of the Russia-Georgia conflict has been the sluggish support Russia has received from its allies. Perhaps most notable has been the reaction in Minsk, where the government of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has acted ambivalently and still appears to be vacillating over the wisest course of action.

Mon, 2008-09-01 23:38
On 1 September 2008, the Office for a Democratic Belarus attended a debate organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States entitled ‘The War in Georgia and Relations with Russia: What happened and What Now?’ in Brussels, Belgium.
Thu, 2008-08-28 12:57
Valery Shchukin, a legend in the Belarusian opposition movement, has been arrested, fined, beaten, and imprisoned perhaps more than any other activist.
Tue, 2008-08-26 13:52

By Jan Maksymiuk

Should Belarus's ambitious privatization plan come to fruition, the country's state-dominated economy could be in store for a breakthrough.

The sheer numbers contained in the two-year plan are impressive -- more than 500 state-run enterprises and some 150 businesses partly owned by the government would be up for sale.

But since the program was announced in July, it has attracted its share of skeptics who question its true objectives.

Tue, 2008-08-26 13:43
By Alyaksandr Alesin
The leaders of Belarus and Russia agreed on August 19 to sign an accord on the establishment of a single air defense system this fall.
Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Surikov told reporters two days after the talks that the accord may be signed at the next session of the Union State Supreme State Council. Its date has not yet been set. It is unclear whether the draft was rewritten in connection with the US plan to deploy a missile shield in Europe. A US deal with Poland to site interceptor missiles in that country might have prompted Russia to speed up talks on the agreement with Belarus.