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Tag: belarus

Eurasian Economic Union: Between perception and reality

The EAEU is primarily a limited customs union, which managed to harmonise the external customs tariffs, abolished the internal customs borders, and transferred the decision-making about the tariffs to the Union level. However, it is unlikely to achieve higher levels of economic integration, as there are too many disagreements between member countries.

January 9, 2018 - Alexander Libman

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

Pursuing cooperation despite divisions: The outcomes of Eastern Partnership Summit 2017

The Summit’s results have been less ambitious than some of the participants might have expected. The EU confirmed its commitment to the initiative, cautiously putting on the plate a set of limited reforms. Any more consistent steps forward seem to be unfeasible, as there are still numerous points of disagreement among the EU members and their eastern partners.

November 27, 2017 - Giovanni Pigni

One and a half years before the election: Is Ukraine dreaming of Belarus?

Ukraine’s political scene is ripe for a newcomer. The public demands an uncompromising anti-corruption crusade, releasing the country from the oligarchs' grip, reforming the public service, boosting the social infrastructure and rising welfare standards.

November 21, 2017 - Yegor Vasylyev

Traces of the Soviet Union

Is talking about a post-Soviet reality justified? Or is it more of an offence? Does the term “post-Soviet” even make sense today – 26 years since the Soviet Union collapsed? Political scientists tend to answer this question with a “no”. Yet, the works of a collective of photographers, known as Sputnik Photos, show that what we are seeing now is something of a “Soviet afterlife”.

In early April this year I attended a presentation in Berlin of a photo project titled Lost Territories. The project was carried out between 2008 and 2016 by a group of photographers, collectively referred to as Sputnik Photos. During the Berlin event one of the photographers, a Pole named Michał Łuczak, presented the main purpose of the project. His presentation was followed by a discussion with a Russian writer, Sergey Lebedev and me. During the conversation we came to the conclusion that the greatest value of the project did not lie in the artistic quality of the photographs or the interesting travel recollections that were shared by the photographers. Rather, it was how it captured the traces of the Soviet Empire, both material and non-material, which can still be found today in what some call the post-Soviet space. Does this fact mean the Soviet Union, which formally ceased to exist over a quarter century ago, has survived, despite conventional wisdom? Or perhaps, its death is a slow and painful process?

October 4, 2017 - Wojciech Górecki

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

Bringing Belarus back into line?

On April 3rd Russia and Belarus provisionally announced the resolution of their latest long-running energy dispute, signalling a reconciliation between neighbours who had fallen out over a range of issues during the past three years.  Key details remain to be worked out, but the settlement ostensibly reached on Monday more or less freezes the status quo in the bilateral relationship by pledging continued subsidies for Belarus.  This is an outcome Belarus longed for and Russia longed to change.

April 12, 2017 - Paul Hansbury

Belarus’ measured repressions

Over the past month and a half, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets protesting against dire economic conditions and demanding resignation of the country’s long-term ruler, Alexander Lukashenka. The Belarusian authorities have employed a set of measures to crack down on protests without jeopardising relations with the EU.

April 3, 2017 - Andrei Yeliseyeu

Belarus: In thawing EU ties, a trap in disguise

In what is regarded as an unexpected move, Belarusian authorities recently arrested three pro-Russian contributors to a Kremlin-friendly news outlet arguing against Belarusian independence from Russia. The arrests come at a time when relations between Belarus and Russia have increasingly deteriorated, while those with the European Union seem to have slightly warmed, despite ongoing concerns about the human rights situation in the country. However, Europe would be well advised to approach Belarus only cautiously.

December 22, 2016 - Andrew Witthoeft

Orthodox radicalism in Eastern Ukraine: Lessons for Belarus

During the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Cossacks became a tool of the “Russian World” propaganda and formed radical Orthodox groups. Now, the revitalisation of the Cossacks and the Russian National Unity movement, the creation of the Orthodox military-patriotic clubs and the opening of Rossotrudnichestvo (The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation) branches in Belarus may suggest that the country is doomed to repeat the Ukrainian scenario.

December 12, 2016 - Heorhii Bushuiev and Ekaterina Maslakova

Poland and Belarus: Normalisation 2.0?

An interview with Dzianis Melyantsou, senior analyst at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies. Interviewer: Maciej Makulski

December 6, 2016 - Maciej Makulski

Belarus: Why do dictators need women?

Belarus, often called “the last dictatorship of Europe,” is a truly remarkable country in political terms. There are few other places where elections are rigged in such an open way and where, for over 12 years, opposition politicians have not set foot in the parliament. However, the latest parliamentary election in Belarus has brought some surprising results. Two opposition politicians were elected, among the other 108, to the Belarusian House of Representatives. Even more surprising is the gender of the selected politicians, as they are both women.

October 18, 2016 - Ales Herasimenka

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