Policy briefs

Mon, 2008-04-07 17:32

OPENING THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S DELEGATION IN MINSK:

Alena Vysotskaya Guedes Vieira BRIEFING PAPER 18, 7 April 2008

In the first months of 2008, the Belarusian leadership made some unprecedented declarations, demonstrating its willingness to cooperate with the EU. In contrast to similar declarations in the past, the current statements were supported by tangible cooperation-oriented steps on the part of the official Minsk, including the decision on the opening of the Delegation of the European Commission in the country and the release of several political prisoners.

Mon, 2008-04-07 11:12

Since the release their first album in 1994, the year President Alexander Lukashenko took the helm of Belarus, NRM (AKA Independent Dream Republic) has resolved to campaign in favour of freedom - against the authoritarian rule of President Lukashenko. With 10 albums promoted within 10 years, NRM has been the most successful rock band in Belarus and continued with its dissident tunes regardless of the obstacles and the imposed playing restrictions.

Fri, 2008-04-04 11:16

 From The Economist print edition

What is going on in Belarus? And in its ruler's head?

AMERICA calls it the "last dictatorship in Europe". It has political prisoners, police crackdowns, state-run media and a security service called the KGB. So Belarus's image could do with polishing. Its irascible president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, seems to accept this: Tim Bell, one of Britain's top public-relations men, was recently seen in Minsk, where he was in talks about a consultancy contract. As a Tory spin-doctor, he helped turn Margaret Thatcher into an election-winner. As Lord Bell he represents rich eastern Europeans such as Boris Berezovsky, an emigre Russian oligarch.

Thu, 2008-04-03 10:57

This analysis is prepared by experts of the Assembly of Pro-democratic NGOs of Belarus within the framework

of the joint project with the Foundation for Legal Technologies Development.

In 2007, the situation in respect to the freedom of association in Belarus did not improve and the legal status of NGOs remained extremely difficult. The legal climate for the establishment and activities of independent civic organizations remained unfavourable. The enactment and law implementation revealed a growing tendency toward further restrictions on freedom of association. Much of the abridgment of freedom of association and restrictions on the activities of NGOs are not based on laws but are due to Decrees of the President, regulations and instructions made by the Ministry of Justice and law enforcement. In 2007, the most severe repressive measures against NGOs were related to activities carried out by unregistered organizations, which is regarded as a penal action. The regime’s arsenal of repressive measures includes the criminal prosecution of members of unregistered NGOs and knowingly illegal mass arrests of civic activists (frequently of a preventive nature). Unwarranted searches of NGO offices were reported regularly, as was intimidation of their activists by the security services.

Thu, 2008-04-03 10:38

by Iryna Vidanava
28 March 2008

When the Lukashenka regime cracks down on an opposition rally, youthful activists respond with cheerful insouciance.

MINSK | Spring is supposed to be the harbinger of warm weather, when people return to Minsk’s parks with their chess sets in hand. When a number of political prisoners were released in early 2008, many hoped that a thaw had come to the diplomatic chess game between the United States, European Union and Belarus.

Wed, 2008-04-02 07:00

Just before the Easter holidays, the Pontis Foundation and the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies are pleased to share with you the first analysis in a new series of the Belarus Public Policy Fund. This series aims to bring expert quality perspectives from independent Belarusian experts on strategic public policy issues and questions Belarus faces today. In this way, we hope to enhance awareness about these issues and thus encourage and foster public dialogue on a new vision for Belarus.

Mon, 2008-03-31 10:44
A few stray dogs and a bedraggled band of women with gold-capped teeth compete for the thin shaft of afternoon sunlight that warms a corner of the decrepit railway station waiting room. The women, from the former Soviet republic of Belarus, are smugglers. There is no secret about that. They are busy putting on layer after layer of new clothing, suiting up for their daily battle with the border police.
Fri, 2008-03-07 11:54

By LUKE ALLNUTT

Something strange is happening in Belarus. In recent weeks, most of the country's political prisoners have been released in what authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has described as a "goodwill gesture." He also recently gave the European Commission the go-ahead to set up a branch in Minsk. This is an unprecedented opportunity for the West -- and in particular the European Union -- to engage Belarus.

Mon, 2008-02-25 19:24
By George Dura
Following the energy crisis between Belarus and Russia in December 2006-January 2007, Belarus gave the impression that it wished to move closer to the EU. One year later, however, Belarus appears to have mended its fences with Russia and toned down its pro-EU rhetoric. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to analyse whether the dynamics of EU-Belarus relations have changed at all in the intervening year and if so, whether the EU has succeeded in increasing its leverage on Belarus. In its conclusions, the paper puts forward a series of short-term and longer-term measures that the EU might consider taking, provided that Belarus commits to addressing the most basic requirements in the field of human rights and democratisation.
Mon, 2008-02-25 19:16

By David Marples

Over the past two weeks Belarus has released a large group of "political prisoners" from jails and camps across the country. They include activists, politicians, and some of the entrepreneurs who were arrested when protesting the restriction of their activities through new state laws. Significantly, former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin remains in captivity, but the apparent moderation of the regime's stance has fueled hopes that there could now develop a dialogue between the Lukashenka regime and Belarus. Thus in a late January interview with Belapan, Christiane Hohmann, spokesperson for European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commented that progress in democratization would be the key determinant of better relations between Belarus and the European Union.

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