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Tag: belarus

“I am all yours”. What the new union of Lukashenka and Putin means and how it might affect Ukraine

In early November 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin called his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka from temporarily occupied Sevastopol. The leaders of the two countries signed a "road map" that in reality will become a "springboard" for the absorption of Belarus by Russia.

December 8, 2021 - Alina Turyshyn

Lithuania fumbles with 4,200 migrants, pushing human rights aside

As of September 28th 2021, 4,163 migrants have illegaly crossed Lithuania’s border with Belarus. To deter migrants – now and for good – Lithuania has pinned its hopes on a fence along the frontier.

Rudninkai, a sleepy Lithuanian settlement of 500 inhabitants in the Salcininkai district along Lithuania and the EU’s border with Belarus, has been in both the local and international media spotlight this summer. Over 700 illegal male migrants had been placed for nearly three months in a makeshift tent camp, which is now eerily empty. All the migrants, mostly Iraqis, Kurds, Afghans and Sri Lankans, have been moved from the settlement to a former correctional facility in Kybartai, in the south-western district of Vilkaviskis near the Russian border. At the same time, around 400 vulnerable migrants have been moved to a refugee reception centre in Rukla, which is located in the central Jonava district. Some others are still living in municipal shelters, mostly crumbling dormitories in municipalities located along the 680 kilometre border with Belarus.

December 1, 2021 - Linas Jegelevicius

The disintegration of the Soviet Union is still going on and it is not peaceful

A conversation with Serhii Plokhy, Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University and director of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: This year we commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union, an event that brought an end to the Cold War as well as what Francis Fukuyama called “the end of history”. Yet, this event also led to social, economic and political instability; nation and identity building; the creation of new states and divides; and conflicts and wars among neighbours, just to name a few of the key processes. But let’s start maybe with the positives. When you look back over the past 30 years, after the collapse of the USSR, what would you say were the most important achievements or milestones throughout these past decades for the post-Soviet space?

SERHII PLOKHY: I will start with something that on the surface sounds controversial but in reality is not. The collapse of the Soviet Union signalled the “end of history” – but the history that I am talking about is not associated with the victory of liberal democracy. It was the victory of private property and market economics. With democracy we have a mixed record at best, but certainly the late 1980s and early 1990s really signalled the end for economies that were not based to one degree or another on the private property and market. Even China, which survived as a party run state and preserved a form of communist ideology, did so by adopting the principles of the market economy. So that is certainly one very clear turning point of global significance, as throughout most of the 20th century that the economic model was often directly challenged.

December 1, 2021 - Adam Reichardt Serhii Plokhy

Society vs the elite: Belarusian post-Soviet experiences

After the collapse of the USSR, opposition groups in the republics found themselves unprepared for the new political and economic reality of independence. The anti-Soviet elites were expected to present a concrete socio-economic programme for the country. This is despite the fact that the group was deprived of earlier political or administrative experience. Its political capital was only limited to a vision of nation-building.

More than anything else, revolutions and social resistance movements in post-Soviet states show the large disconnect between authorities and society. They reflect differences in perceptions of reality as they are experienced by globalising societies and post-Soviet leaders. This disconnect can be explained by the fact that political elites, as well as some of the intellectual elite, are simply out of touch with a civil society that is now made up of a young generation of digital natives. Clearly, they do not understand this generation’s cultural needs or the global technological change that has taken place.

December 1, 2021 - Anton Saifullayeu Maxim Rust

Deconstruction on the (semi)periphery

A review of Postkolonialne historiografie. Casus jednego średniowiecza (Postcolonial historiographies. The case of a certain medieval period). By: Anton Saifullayeu. Publisher: Oficyna Wydawnicza ASPRA-JR, Warsaw, 2020.

November 30, 2021 - Michał Przeperski

Belarus’s Day of National Unity: a controversial public holiday with a flawed logic

On September 17th, Belarus celebrated its so-called “Day of National Unity”, an official holiday created on June 7th by Lukashenka’s edict. The date echoes the events of 1939, when the Soviet army entered Poland's territory as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Based on official interpretations and discourse, this text attempts to briefly demonstrate the flawed official logic that led Minsk to choose this date as a public holiday.

November 2, 2021 - Kiryl Kascian

A guideline to Belarusian repressive methods. Dealing with structural roots of dissent

The 2020 mass protests took place thanks to a vibrant private sector that produced a highly-skilled, well-paid urban class not tied to Lukashenka’s social contract. Lukashenka response can be seen partly in his Soviet upbringing and political career which produced a worldview not devoid of class-based categories. Thus, he attacked the means that sustain the existence of the opposition, with an approach reminiscent of Stalin’s policies towards kulaks.

September 28, 2021 - German Carboni

The Titanic is sinking. Is this the end of the Putin-Lukashenka tandem?

The relationship between the two longest-serving European presidents has always been riddled with not-so-inconspicuous power-wrestling, wrapped in a narrative of brotherhood and sprinkled with cosy photo-ops. Up until recently, both leaders enjoyed relative stability on their own political turf, allowing them to manage their bilateral relations from positions of strength.

September 22, 2021 - Agnieszka Widłaszewska

Issue 5/2021: Belarusians. One year in protest

Now available! Issue 5/2021 of New Eastern Europe. This special issue aims to honour the plight of Belarusians whose democratic choice made in August 2020 was shamelessly snubbed by Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

September 13, 2021 - New Eastern Europe

It is our duty to bring our fight to a victorious end

An interview with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of democratic Belarus. Interviewer: Paulina Siegień

PAULINA SIEGIEŃ: Your life has dramatically changed over the last year. These changes took place even earlier when your husband, Siarhei Tsikhanouski, decided he would run for president. We all know what took place afterwards. What was the most important lesson that you have learnt as a result of all that has happened?

SVIATLANA TSIKHANOUSKAYA: My life has been in constant change for over the last year and a half. At first, Siarhei decided to run for president, then he was arrested so that he could not submit necessary documents to register with the election committee, which included collecting signatures for his candidacy. My husband gave me these documents along with the power of attorney in case something happened. Nevertheless, the Belarusian election commission did not accept these documents from me and challenged my power of attorney, saying that the candidate must come and sign in person. That is why on the following day, I decided to submit these documents myself, meaning, on my own behalf.

September 12, 2021 - Paulina Siegień Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

One year on. What has changed in Belarus?

The 2020 elections took place in the middle of a pandemic, dismissed by the president as a "psychosis". They were the first elections to be contested by other sectors of the Belarusian elite. Since that day, the situation has changed. Over 38,000 people have been arrested, and over 500 have been declared political prisoners. Peaceful protesters, peaking in numbers at around 250,000 in Minsk but significant in all cities, have been arrested, tortured and in several cases, murdered. What comes next remains an open question.

On August 9th 2021, Alyaksandr Lukashenka held a press conference to discuss the events of the previous year. It was attended by both local and foreign journalists. The de facto leader of Belarus fielded questions in his own style and according to his own perceptions – or stated perceptions – of the world. He expressed his views on the so-called All-Belarusian People's Assembly, on the change of president in the United States and in general about the West's vendetta against his rule, as well as the attacks on his security forces by protesters.

September 12, 2021 - David Marples

Repressions reveal the ruthlessness of the Lukashenka regime

Since August last year, the Belarusian regime under Alyaksandr Lukashenka has instituted a system of repressions which is unprecedented for Europe in the second decade of the 21st century. By the end of July this year there were 604 political prisoners in Belarus, the total number of those imprisoned after August 9th 2020 is estimated at more than 35,000. Thirty-two Belarusian journalists are currently in custody, either awaiting trial or serving their sentences.

For more than 25 out of its 30 years of independence, Belarus has been a country governed by a sophisticated state-run system of repressions. Yet since last year’s presidential elections, these repressions lost their sophistication and reached a different level in terms of quantity and “quality”. There are at least three perspectives to consider when examining what is happening in Belarus since August 9th 2020.

September 12, 2021 - Stephan Malerius

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