Policy briefs

Fri, 2007-07-20 11:23

July 13 2007

Does the application for the Russia’s loan prove that the Belarusian economy is falling apart? Does it make Belarus vulnerable to some loss of its sovereignty? Not very likely, say the BISS experts. The possible provision of a two billion loan by the Russian government seems not to endanger the Belarusian economy (given the current volume of the country’s foreign indebtedness). Moreover, the political side of this issue could also be managed rather unproblematically by the government of Belarus.

Fri, 2007-07-20 11:20

July 9 2007

by Vitali Silitski

Ahead of the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections (according to Central Election Commission, first round would be October 12, 2008), the Belarusian opposition is now starting to develop a strategy for the Parliamentary elections.  But these preparations may be well overshadowed by several surprise strikes by the authorities.

Ahead of the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections (according to Central Election Commission, first round would be October 12, 2008), the Belarusian opposition is now starting to develop a strategy for the Parliamentary elections. A question remains whether Alexander Milinkevich's “Za Svobodu” movement will take part in the elections as a separate entity, while currently it is their stated intention that Movement as a whole does not intend to put its candidates. However, it will support party and non-party candidates who they consider 'share the Movement's values' as well intending to concentrate on candidates training, information and nationwide campaign of presenting candidates to be members of electoral commissions. Such an approach, though, might be contradiction as it is hardly expectable that UDF will agree the “outsource” the campaign for “Za svabodu”. 

The bottom line is that many opposition activists are very hesitant about running in the elections, thus the opposition is expected to have hard to present credible candidates in all districts. Activists who have run in previous elections and have been defrauded of their wins in many cases see little sense in running in what they expect to again be falsified elections which they could not "win" anyway.

Fri, 2007-07-20 11:15

July 1 2007

On June 14, 2007, President of Belarus has issued the Directive No. 3 calling for the economy-wide thrift as one of the top priorities of the state. What are the likely consequences of this action? The BISS experts point to a language of security used to frame the pressing need for cost-cutting across sectors of the economy. This might not come as a surprise, the BISS experts suggest, given the domestic context and the process of decision-making in contemporary Belarus. So the new regulation is rather an ideological, context-specific reaction, than a way to create new incentives for the economy.

Fri, 2007-07-20 11:02

July 1, 2007

Does the existing division between ‘pro-Russian’ and ‘anti-Russian’ (or, in other connotation, ‘pro-Russian’ and ‘pro-European’) orientation of Belarusian political forces illustrate real dilemmas and meaningful challenges to the political and economic development of Belarus in the future?
Are numerous claims of the opposition politicians that Russia implements or could implement in the near future its own political project within the ‘opposition field’ of Belarus justified?
Is there a real-world possibility for a pro-Russian opposition to emerge in Belarus, the phenomenon so much feared by many of the Belarusian oppositional elites but at the same time advocated by some of the Russian analysts?
Is there an opportunity for political cooperation between Russia and the EU on the ‘Belarusian issues’?

Tue, 2007-07-10 17:54
On July 3, Belarus officially commemorated Independence Day, and the month also marks the 17th anniversary of the declaration of sovereignty in the late Soviet era. In contrast to previous years, the authorities are now offering a new form of patriotism: the promotion of national culture and pride is being combined with a new movement for support of the Lukashenka government and celebrating what is described as the economic success of the past decade and the flourishing of the current state. The creation of a new public association called "Belaya Rus'," a pro-government organization formed in several centers simultaneously, could prove decisive in forthcoming elections to the Belarusian Parliament or municipal elections.
Thu, 2007-06-21 19:35
On June 19, Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski summarized the economic results for the first five months of 2007, maintaining that the country had attained "macroeconomic stability." GDP rose by 9% compared with the same period last year, with notable increases in output in both industry and agriculture (www.belta.by, June 14). Real wages (taking into account inflation and other factors) reportedly rose by 17.1% in the first quarter of this year, well above the anticipated rise of 7.5-8.5%. Whereas agricultural wages are the lowest in the country, those working in ferrous metallurgy receive the highest salaries, more than two times the national average at BR1.3 million ($610) (www.tut.by, June 19).
Tue, 2007-06-05 15:29
Over the years, the Belarusian economy has been displaying decent rates of economic growth, while being labelled by international financial institutions and many commentators as a ‘laggard in transition’ with an authoritarian polity and a semi-command economy. Some economic successes had initially appeared as puzzling, but were later accepted and understood. But still, a low share of private sector to GDP and the virtual absence of privatisation along with a slow pace of enterprise restructuring, all imply that Belarus’ economy is far from being a ‘fully-fledged’ market one.
Thu, 2007-05-17 16:50
Suzanne Nossel writes about the problems behind forming the new effective Human Rights Council and the chances for Belarus to get a seat in it despite its abuse record at Huffington Post: One of the key, and most hotly contested, elements distinguishing the Council from its disesteemed predecessor was to have been its composition. Whereas the Commission was traditionally dominated by some of the world’s worst human rights offenders (think Zimbabwe, Sudan, Cuba, Libya, etc.), the Council was supposed to be different.
Wed, 2007-05-02 18:19
Currently the EU lacks both visibility and adequate tools for communication with the Belarusian people. If the EU wishes to offer Belarus a ‘European’ alternative, it must urgently implement a more effective policy.
Tue, 2007-04-03 10:52
Until January 1, 2007 Belarus enjoyed considerably lower prices for energy from Russia. Cheap energy was in fact a tool of the Kremlin’s economic, and consequently political, support for Lukashenka’s regime. But at the end of March 2006, right after the presidential elections that confirmed Lukashenka in office for another five years, Moscow announced change in its policy. Lukashenka’s harsh reaction created a feeling that policy change is possible in Minsk.

The paper is covering the current situation and predicting possible development argues that there is no foundation for serious change in Minsk toward Moscow. Despite the rhetoric attempt to hold dialogue with the West, which seems to indicate that there is no firm belief in Minsk, the position of the Belarusian government continues to deteriorate the situation further by blackmailing Moscow in hopes of achieving more favorable conditions (e.g. to undo the change in the subsidization policy). Now, it is up to the opposition and civil society to make Belarusian society aware of these deficiencies and to formulate alternative policies in order to have a word in the development of the next era – at least up until the next Russian presidential elections (early 2008) and the Belarusian parliamentary elections (October 2008) – which may determine the future of Belarus for a longer time.