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Belarusian Review

Thoughts and Observations
22.01.2011 Belarus In A Season of Democratic Vagaries
Belarusian state-run television has begun to regularly broadcast messages that the current head of state is a dictator, the national economy is in shambles, the country has had no real elections since time immemorial, and that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is on the verge of fleeing to his friend Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
22.01.2011 Lukashenka Compromises To Gain Moscow’s Support
On December 19, ten candidates will contest the Belarusian presidency. The election has been notably open, with several opposition candidates reaching out for support from Moscow, and the European Union offering encouragement to the incumbent president conditional on some basic requirements for a democratic process. However, belatedly the president has reached a pre-election agreement with Moscow on oil and gas imports to gain qualified support, at a high price. Opinion polls suggest that although Alyaksandr Lukashenka leads his rivals, he lacks a clear majority
22.01.2011 Internet Regulation Comes at a High Price
Belarus feels the impact of Internet regulation three months after passage of a new law. Users and providers alike have experienced privacy issues and censorship concerns. Belarusian journalist Iryna Vidanava investigates the impact of Decree #60
02.07.2010 Belarus Gears Up For Presidential Elections
Lukashenka looks increasingly vulnerable, yet the opposition’s failure to unite behind a single candidate still seems set to hand him another term in office. The Belarusian Constitution demands that the country must hold the next presidential election by February 2011. The incumbent president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, has been in office for 16 years, and most residents, according to a recent opinion poll by Novak, would like to see “a new face.” But can the opposition provide that candidate, and what are the main issues that preoccupy the electorate in the summer of 2010?
13.04.2010 At Yanukovych’s Inauguration: Lukashenka Agreed To be Sidelined
Ukrainian diplomacy with direct participation of the Belarusian side managed to avoid countless unpleasant moments which could have occurred during the ceremony of inauguration of Ukraine's President-elect Viktor Yanukovych because of simultaneous participation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and European presidents in the event, AFN reports.
13.04.2010 Russias Partnership with Belarus Hits Turbulence
Russian relations with its closest ally, Belarus, have reached a new low following a renewed dispute over energy prices and supply terms. The escalating disagreements over Russian oil supplies to Belarus now threaten to reduce shipments to Belarus refineries. Until recently, Russian crude exports to Belarus were delivered duty-free and then Minsk re-exported oil and refined products to Europe at a healthy profit. Now Moscow has concluded that Belarus is gaining far more than it deserves. On January 15, the Russian Federal Customs Service ordered levying full tariffs on crude oil and oil products supplies to Belarus from January 1, 2010. As Russia moved to levy full export tariffs, the price of crude oil increased from $550 to $560 per ton in January, or up from $380 per ton in December 2009. This year, the price of Russian oil products imported by Belarus is also expected to increase by almost 50 percent (Interfax, ITAR-TASS, RIA Novosti, January 15).
13.04.2010 Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka, European Chessmaster
The policy of engagement that replaced the strict isolation of Lukashenka's regime needs to be rethought and recalibrated.
13.04.2010 Belarusian Crackdown On Polish Minority Puts EU Relations At Risk
Analysts are at a loss as to why Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka would want to jeopardize his quietly budding relationship with the European Union.
13.04.2010 Conscription Used as a Deterrent By Belarusian Government
On December 29, Franak Vyachorka, the son of the former leader of the Belarusian Popular Front Vintsuk Vyachorka, was transferred from his military unit in Mazyr to a hospital after having discovered scabies. He also suffers from high blood pressure. However, although the hospital doctor informed him that he would remain there for several days in order to recover, he was discharged on January 5 and returned to his unit (www.charter97.org, January 6)
13.04.2010 Will Belarus Build Its Nuclear Plant?
Over the past three years, there have been numerous discussions about the future Belarusian nuclear power station. Various sites have been studied and canvassed and in December 2008, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced that the station would be located in the Astravets district of Hrodna region, some ten miles from the Lithuanian border (EDM, April 20, 2009). However, there are increasing signs, not only that the station will be well behind the planned schedule of completion for the first two reactors (in 2016 and 2018 respectively), but also that it may not be built at all. The confusing reports stem from contradictory signals by the main partners, Belarus and Russia, and particularly from comments made by the Belarusian president.
13.04.2010 KGB Gets Unlimited Access To Telephone Companies Data Bases
The KGB (State Security Committee) and the Operating Analytical Centre (OAC) under Lukashenka’s administration are penetrating the cell phone companies by installing special equipment.
12.01.2010 Zapad 2009 Rehearses Countering NATO Attack on Belarus
On September 29 the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka attended the end of joint military exercises at the Obuz-Lesnovsky firing range in Belarus. The two stage "Zapad 2009" (West 2009) began on September 8, involving a total of 12,500 servicemen, including 6,000 from Russia, and 40 aircraft among 200 items of military hardware. Medvedev said that such exercises will be held every two years in order to promote Russian and Belarusian military interoperability and form a high-quality joint defense system. Army-General Nikolai Makarov, the Russian Chief of the General Staff noted the importance of the exercises: "We have not conducted anything like that in terms of composition and scale for a long time" (ITAR-TASS, September 8; Krasnaya Zvezda, September 25; Rossiya TV, September 28). Minsk invited observers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine to attend the event. However, the exercise which was developed jointly between the Belarusian and Russian defense ministries was described by Medvedev as "purely defensive," though to many western observers it appeared to be a regressive step: the exercise scenario concentrated on repelling a NATO-led attack on Belarus (EDM, September 28).
12.01.2010 Belarus Cracks Down On Youth Activists
Since late November, the Belarusian authorities have targeted members of the Malady Front (Young Front, MF), an organization registered in the Czech Republic but not in Belarus, as well as Eurapeyskaya Belarus (European Belarus), the members of which overlap.
12.01.2010 Pragmatic EU Keeps Belarus Sanctions in Suspension
Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, speaking for the current EU Presidency, said that ''we are still in a period of engaging with authorities in Belarus to try to move them further in the direction of European values.''
11.01.2010 European Union Disappointed with Lack of Change in Belarus
A meeting of the European Union Council of foreign ministers in Brussels on November 16-17 opted to continue restrictions on travel by Belarusian government officials to its member states. However, to encourage the Belarusian side to improve its domestic situation, the ban was suspended for a further eleven months, expiring in October 2010.
12.10.2009 US Delegation Chastised By the Dictator
Representatives of the US Congress visited Belarus as a part of their visit to the Baltic and Balkan states. A meeting between the congressmen and the Belarusian dictator didn’t bring a breakthrough in relations.
12.10.2009 September 17 and the Roots Of Contemporary Belarus
The 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War in 1939 has been commemorated worldwide. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has denounced revisionism and attempts to belittle the Soviet victory. In Belarus, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka commemorated September 17 as the pivotal date in the foundation of the modern state, and speakers at a conference at the House of Officers requested that it be added to the calendar of state days of remembrance.
12.10.2009 Lukashenka Admits Rigging 2006 Presidential Election
In an interview that appeared in Izvestiya in Moscow on August 27, the Belarusian President, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, maintained that the results of the 2006 presidential elections were falsified. However, rather than raising his total, Lukashenka had allegedly demanded that it be lowered to appear more realistic to the public. He maintains that his real total was 93 percent, but it was replaced by "something around 80 percent" (the official figure was 83 percent).
12.10.2009 Lukashenkas Gambit In Relations with Moscow
On July 31, the Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka participated in an informal summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) held in Cholpon Ata on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. However, he refused to sign any documents on the Russian proposal to create the Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF) and Belarus has yet to take up its scheduled term as the rotating chair of the CSTO, which embraces, along with Russia and Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The trip by Lukashenka was described in the official media in Minsk as a "working visit" to Kyrgyzstan (SB-Belarus' Segodnya, July 31). It appears once again that the Belarusian president is emphasizing his distance from Moscow, but it is a risky gambit.
12.10.2009 Russian TV Crew Expelled
A Russian TV crew’s visit to Minsk might be the Kremlin’s first move in a bid to undermine an uppity underling.
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New Articles
The Center for Belarusian Studies (23.01.2011)
Declaration by the Coordinating Committee of Belarusians of Canada (23.01.2011)
A backfire in Belarus (23.01.2011)
Belarus: That’s enough democracy (23.01.2011)
In Belarus, a Slide Toward Eastern Aggression (23.01.2011)
Statement By the Rada of The Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile
28th December 2010
(23.01.2011)
StatementBy the Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels)
And the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies
(23.01.2011)
Blood and Special Operations in Belarus Politics (23.01.2011)
BNR Rada Rejects Election Results (23.01.2011)
Demonstration in London (23.01.2011)
Wrong Carrot, Wrong Stick (23.01.2011)
A Nasty Surprise in Belarus (23.01.2011)
STATEMENT (23.01.2011)
Belarus Police Arrest Opposition Leaders (23.01.2011)
No Business as Usual (23.01.2011)
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