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Issue 5 2018: What’s new with Belarus?

It often seems, at least from the outside, that Belarus remains isolated from the West and very static in its transformation. Yet, despite its relative isolation, Belarus is indeed changing.

September 2, 2018 - New Eastern Europe - Issue 5 2018MagazineNew Eastern Europe

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Even if these changes are slow, as Andrew Wilson notes in the opening essay, they should be seen as an opportunity for European policymakers who nevertheless need to remain “realistic as where exactly the changes are occurring and why”. Carnegie expert Balázs Jarábik agrees that current changes are important, but far from a breakthrough. However, he notes that no other country in the Eastern Partnership is as stable as Belarus – even if it is one of the least democratic, as noted by both Maxim Rust and Alyaksandr Klaskouski in their analyses of the country’s unique political system.

Yet, to really get a grasp of how this post-Soviet country is evolving, one must look beyond politics. Hence, our authors take us on a journey to other, less-explored areas of the country. Victor Martinovich describes the many layers of Belarusian culture, Tanya Setsko illustrates the role of exclusion in the society, while Natalia Smolentceva and Varvara Morozova describe grassroots urban movements in and around the capital city of Minsk. When put together, we get a picture of a country that is rather dynamic and faces similar issues to many other countries in the region and the West. On the surface, Belarus may be an even more reluctant participant of Europe, but it is also much more than the simple catchphrase “Europe’s last dictatorship”.

Lastly, as Poland celebrates 2018 as the “Year of Zbigniew Herbert” this issue presents a special section on the renowned Polish poet and writer. Herbert, who published nine volumes of poetry throughout his life, became a moral authority during the communist period. Our authors revisit Herbert’s life story and worldviews, and discuss the impact he continues to have on this region while uncovering his ties to the East.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Softly, softly Belarus Andrew Wilson
The EU should take Belarus more seriously An interview with Balázs Jarábik
A Belarusian house of cards Maxim Rust
Belarusian culture: national, European, post-Soviet Victor Martinovich
Photo-report: Belarus Uladzimir Kalada
A change from within Natalia Smolentceva and Varvara Morozova
Oppositionists or dissidents? An interview with Alyaksandr Klaskouski
Hello, generation Lukashenka Hanna Liubakova
Exclusion in Belarus: pieces of discrimination Tanja Setsko
Energy independence should be priority Tatiana Manenok
Little change in the Belarusian economy Anna Maria Dyner

Between declarations and reality Paweł Kost
Ukrainian media reforms. One step forward, two steps back Roman Kabachiy
A clockwork orange Szabolcs Vörös

INTERVIEWS

Corruption is Russia’s biggest export An interview with Ilya Zaslavskiy

STORIES AND IDEAS

The disease of the Romanian health care system Fieke Snijder
Public involvement in urban development. The case of Novosibirsk Yulia Oreshina and Olesya Shvets

 A WITNESS TO HIS TIME. SPECIAL SECTION ON ZBIGNIEW HERBERT

A barbarian in the besieged city Andriy Lyubka
Herbert, who looks at the cathedral tower Ostap Slyvynsky
Like two Gods. Herbert and Miłosz An interview with Andrzej Franaszek
Herbert and the East Walery Butewicz
A nomadic writer Kinga Anna Gajda

HISTORY & MEMORY

Rediscovering a Jewish Wrocław Aleksander Gleichgewicht

 EASTERN CAFÉ

A welcome addition to North Caucasus scholarship Neil Hauer
A portrait of Jobbik Adam Balcer
A pioneer in St Petersburg Margarita Vladimirova
Following a grandmother’s life Zofia Bluszcz
Democracy – not just an American thing Mateusz Mazzini

The theme on Belarus is published in co‑operation with Dialog Forum / Forum Dialogu. The project is co-financed by the Foundation
for Polish-German Co-operation.

The section on Zbigniew Herbert has been co-financed by the City of Kraków.

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