Belarus’ domestic politics
This report is part of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI) 2020. It covers
the period from February 1, 2017 to January 31, 2019. The BTI assesses the transformation
toward democracy and a market economy as well as the quality of governance in 137 countries.
Since 2015 Kremlin consistently has reconsidered the terms and conditions of the strategic deal, cutting the level of integration subsidies and requiring deeper political, military, and economic integration from Belarus.
As of May 1, 2020, and in contrast to other investigated countries in this report (China, Russia, Hungary, Iran), Belarus hasn’t experienced either a peak of the COVID-19 epidemic or even approached it. Although Belarusian authorities have managed to contain the spread of the epidemic at the first stage without introduction of a nation-wide quarantine effort, the worst consequences are yet to come since the peak of the epidemic is expected in the beginning of June.
Yuri Tsarik on the Belarusian leadership’s faults and the role of Russia in the country’s election.
The domestic agenda remains focused on the upcoming election campaigns, while the government approach is growing tougher. In its foreign policy, Belarus bets on diversification and finds common ground with long-standing opponents.
Last month saw the launch of campaigns for MPs in both chambers of Belarusian parliament, and the country’s continued active interaction with its partners in the international arena.
Yuri Tsarik on the Kremlin’s strategy for “deepening integration” with Belarus
Parliamentary elections are finally scheduled in Belarus.
March saw a shift of accents in the work of the government and media in Belarus. Excessive attention to tensions in Belarus-Russia relations in January-February was replaced by an emphasis on domestic and economic policies. However, these accents turned out to be mostly negatively colored as well.
What Belarus’ new Information Security Concept says and what consequences it will have for the evolution of its political regime
In February 2019, Belarusian leadership paid increased attention to the issues of information security.
Arseny Sivitsky, Director of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, participated in the “Big Conversation with the President” of Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko — meeting with representatives of general public, expert community, Belarusian and foreign mass media.
Belarus further tightens control over its domestic political field. Without Russia’s support, the outlook for its economy is gloomy. Meanwhile, the standoff with Moscow switches from open to positional.
In December, the tensions of the past years in relations between Russia and Belarus entered a new stage growing into an open conflict. The Kremlin openly declared its ambitions of integrating Belarus. It conditioned discounts for oil and gas on deeper integration between Russia and Belarus within the Union State.
Parliamentary and presidential election campaigns are about to start in Belarus, so the authorities continue to “tighten the screws” in the domestic political field and bank on new appointments to the key positions.
The entire country is gradually focusing on the upcoming presidential election. The entire government and bureaucracy, the 2019 budget, and even international relations are all being used to polish up Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s image.
Numerous trade, financial and information conflicts between longtime allies Belarus and Russia came to what seems to be a very smooth resolution at bilateral summit on 12 October 2018
Within the given period the relations between Belarus and Russia have become a source of mostly negative news.
The prime minister, three vice-premiers, three ministers and the chairman of the State Military-Industrial Committee of the Republic of Belarus resigned as a result of Alexander Lukashenko’s trip to the eastern regions of the country
The trade wars with Russia and the Moscow’s desire to limit the use of the European raw materials which are “under sanctions” can cost Belarus not only profits but also the trust of the Western partners.
Since the collapse of the USSR, Belarus has not been transformed into a market economy with well-developed and strong democratic institutions and civil society, in contrast to most of the eastern and central European states, including the Baltics
Belarus authorities began preparations for the presidential and parliamentary elections and tried to ease the protest mood with the financial methods. In foreign policy, the trend of balancing between Russian, European, and Chinese directions is still preserved.
Arseny Sivitski, Director of Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies contributed to the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index 2018 “Democracy under Pressure: Polarization and Repression Are Increasing Worldwide”.
On 5 March 2018, Siarhei Kavalchuk, publicly little known employee of the Presidential Security Service, became the Minister for Sports and Tourism
On 18 February 2018, Belarusians elected their representatives to local councils.
When a soldier died on one of its military bases, this situation again drew attention to the contradictions among the security forces of Belarus.
Western officials and the news media have for years routinely described President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus as “the last dictator of Europe.”
The national security, defense and law enforcement agencies of Belarus are becoming more powerful, therefore raising concerns that the President no longer controls them as he himself is under their control.