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Author: Maxim Rust

“Together” or separate? The Belarusian political elite after the elections

The ruling elite in Belarus is no longer the monolith that it portrayed itself as a few months ago. There are more and more splits and cracks in its structure, which in the long run may lead to a serious internal crisis. This group is losing its grip on control and even reality.

September 17, 2020 - Maxim Rust

The election that changed Belarus

The August 9th presidential election has become a critical event for both the Belarusian society and the ruling elite. The election saw the breakdown of traditional divides between the government and a decades-old political opposition. New players have presented themselves as an alternative to the existing system and have shown themselves to be capable of amassing an unprecedented level of public support.

On August 9th, a consequential presidential election took place in Belarus. A few months prior, there was no indication that this year's campaign would be radically different from any previous one. Everyone had assumed that the regime would simply register a few opposition candidates with no chance. After a typically uneventful campaign, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka would then claim another "elegant victory". Perhaps a few protests were expected, alongside expressions of “deep concern” from the European Union and the United States. Belarusian political life would soon return to “normal” following the announcement of the results.

September 7, 2020 - Maxim Rust

We believe! We can! We will win! A week that changed Belarus

Lukashenka is running out of options as the mass protest of Belarusian society continues with no sign of weakening.

August 18, 2020 - Maxim Rust

Ahead of the presidential elections in Belarus

A summary of New Eastern Europe's special coverage of the Belarusian presidential elections.

August 7, 2020 - Maxim Rust

A new united opposition up against a tired president: counting down to the elections in Belarus

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has emerged as the face of the new opposition ahead of the upcoming elections in Belarus, where she has drawn crowds not seen in the country since the 1990s.

August 5, 2020 - Maxim Rust

Presidential election in Belarus: Who is participating in the race?

The Belarusian Election Commission has registered five candidates for the presidential elections which will take place on August 9th.

July 15, 2020 - Maxim Rust Yahor Azarkevich

Belarus presidential election 2020: (un)obvious choices

The surprisingly calm start to the presidential election campaign in Belarus featured the gathering of signatures in public. Within a few weeks police provocations and arrests have forced the candidates to adapt.

June 15, 2020 - Maxim Rust Yahor Azarkevich

COVID-19 – a crash test for the Belarusian system?

The sudden surge in infections is quickly changing life in Belarus, turning earlier calmness into tension and uncertainty.

April 20, 2020 - Maxim Rust

Rough road ahead for Belarus

Politically, 2019 was a very important year for Belarus. It was dominated by two trends: the authorities pursuing relations with the West and pressure by the Kremlin to deepen the integration of both states.
Growing tensions between Minsk and Moscow, as well as continued attempts to normalise relations with the West, are the main reasons we can call 2019 a ground-breaking year when it comes to the level of meetings that Belarusian officials held with western politicians. On surface they may seem like routine activities of a sovereign state, but in the case of Belarus each meeting sends a signal to the Kremlin.

January 28, 2020 - Maxim Rust

Integration impasse

Since the early stages of the creation of the union state between Belarus and Russia, leaders of both countries have exhibited distrust towards one another. This was even more visible in recent years, especially since the annexation of Crimea. The last few years have seen more differences emerge which could actually close any path to full integration.

Despite being considered a pariah in Europe, Belarus belongs to many international organisations. In addition to being a member of the OSCE, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Eurasian Economic Union, it participates as a member (or observer) in lesser known organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement or the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. It was also a signatory of an agreement with the Russian Federation which, in 1996, established a formal union between the two states. This moment is annually commemorated by both countries (every April 2nd) as the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Russia and Belarus.

March 4, 2019 - Maxim Rust

There are just too few of us

A conversation with Konstanty Gebert, Polish journalist and Jewish activist. Interviewer: Maxim Rust

MAXIM RUST: You have been helping to build Jewish life in Poland for decades now. If you were to assess what were the main changes that have taken place in this regard since the collapse of communism in 1989, what would you say they were? What were the achievements and what were the failures?

KONSTANTY GEBERT: Actually, the biggest change that has taken place is that that we now do have Jewish life in Poland. It erupted suddenly right after communism fell in 1989, after the long decline of the few officially sanctioned organisations which existed under communism. Since the early phase of the transformation, new Jewish organisations, initiatives and clubs began to emerge. Naturally, along with them also came disputes and quarrels.

March 4, 2019 - Konstanty Gebert 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

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