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Author: Maxim Rust

A Belarusian house of cards

In the early stages of the system transformation, the division of the Belarusian political elite into the ruling-elite and counter-elite was more symbolic than a reflection of reality. Today, both demonstrate the features of the Homo post-Sovieticus, fitting into the post-Soviet model of political culture. However, while Lukashenka’s transformation and authoritarian modernisation have gained public support, the model promoted by the counter-elite has proved ineffective.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the political elite played a key role in the process of systematic transformation within post-Soviet territories, including Belarus. The first years of the country’s independence marked a very important stage when the nature of establishing the political elite determined the further course of political, economic and social developments. It was the activities of the elite and counter-elite (i.e. the opposition) that influenced the dynamic of socio-political changes in Belarus.

September 2, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Imperfect memory

The Jews have been erased twice from the history of Belarus. Physically by the Nazis and symbolically by Soviet propaganda. In recent times they have increasingly more space in the Belarusian collective memory.

June 25, 2018 - Maxim Rust

From Putin’s Russia to a non-Putin’s Russia

An interview with Gleb Pavlovsky, a Russian political scientist. Interviewer: Maxim Rust

MAXIM RUST: In your social media posts and comments you often use the hashtag #sistemaRF (system of the Russian Federation). What is this system like today and what is its essence?

GLEB PAVLOVSKY: I use this concept because I wrote several articles where I describe the regime in Russia which does not fit classical categories as a political system or a state. These are disputable issues indeed. What is the Russian regime like, what kind of state is Russia, etc.? The regime is bad but that does not mean anything, because if we make comparisons between today’s Russia and other systems, it means we put Russia in a certain order which may mean that we will lose the key to understanding its essence. This essence is what I am searching for. That is why I use this hashtag to describe the Russian system as a unique aggregation of behaviour and power norms. This system is exceptionally flexible, which is important.

April 26, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Seven cycles of Ukraine’s history

A review of Ukraine: Democratisation, Corruption and the New Russian Imperialism. By: Taras Kuzio. Publisher: Praeger, Santa Barbara, CA, 2015.

March 28, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Coming out in Minsk

The start of this year was an important moment in the socio-political history of Belarus. In late December 2017 a local feminist and anti-discriminatory group of activists called MAKEOUT published a unique LGBT magazine in Belarus. The journal bears the same name as the organisation and was already presented to the public in Minsk. Its content is a summary of the last 20 years of the Belarusian LGBT movement.

Why I am writing about this magazine here and why should we regard it as something significant? First and foremost, MAKEOUT is a professionally-printed publication which deals with a very sensitive topic, especially in a socially conservative post-Soviet country. When considering the regional context it is also quite remarkable that the publication does not come from Russia or Ukraine, but from Belarus, a country that was the least likely to allow such a publication, mainly because of the amount of negatives stereotypes and attitudes towards non-heterosexuals that still exist there. Against these odds, MAKEOUT has succeeded in creating something without precedence.

February 26, 2018 - Maxim Rust

We needed to create an archive of our experiences

Full interview with Nick Antipov, Nasta Mancewicz and Milana Levitskaya, activists with the Belarusian MAKEOUT project. Interviewer: Maxim Rust

February 12, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Belarus’s complicated memory

Belarus has no institutionalised historical policy. The myths that are used in forming official historical policy today are largely shaped by the previous Soviet ones as well as the official state ideology, which places the Belarusian president at its core.

A characteristic feature for many post-Soviet states is a need to develop their own national historical policy, or politics of memory. This is a way to present societies with an adequate image of the past and confirm a collective identity. Belarus is no different in this regard. Unlike its neighbouring states, however, it has one more goal to achieve: it needs to create a shared national identity in a newly independent state.

It is quite noticeable that even though a quarter century has passed since regaining independence, Belarus has still not created its own, common historical policy, nor has it built a widely accepted national identity. That is why the fragmentation of historical memory, as well as the ideological and political disputes that accompany it, are present in today’s Belarus.

January 2, 2018 - Maxim Rust

A 21st century Homo sovieticus?

Instead of portraying the remnants of the Belarusian Homo sovieticus as a problem, we should see it as a challenge and potential advantage: subservience and passivity as potential openness; collectivism as a chance to build a civil community; adaptability and opportunism as resourcefulness; and the multi-layered identity as an expression of a modern civil nation.

October 4, 2017 - Maxim Rust

When a revolution devours its own children

The conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which has been going on for the past three years, led to not only the creation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, but above all to the development of a small group of political and military elite in the region. As a result of the ongoing war, permanent crisis and confusion, people came to power who would not have done so during peacetime.

February 27, 2017 - Maxim Rust

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