Belarusian Yearbook 2021


A comprehensive analysis of developments in key segments of the state and society in the year 2020, which became a historical watershed for the nation

Belarusian Yearbook 2021 constitutes a comprehensive analysis of developments in the key segments of the state and society in the year 2020, which became an obvious landmark for the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic, the summer presidential election campaign amid exhausted resources for recovery growth and a gradual sinking into recession, the mass protests against the election fraud from August through December, the violence of law enforcers that turned out to be unprecedented for the 21st century Europe, and the grave political crisis were the main drivers of the political agenda. In 2020, the Belarusian state and society went through a sort of the “perfect storm”, which will definitely have a long-lasting impact on the country.

Main trends of the year:

  • growth of grassroots initiatives and horizontal solidarity following the onset of the coronavirus epidemic and the significant increase in activism ahead of the presidential election (August 2020) and especially in its wake;
  • development of local communities based on a network of self-regulated local Telegram chats both in Minsk and in the regions;
  • crisis of state power, collapse of trust in social institutions;
  • loss of Lukashenka’s political legitimacy — both internal (stunning election) and external (non-recognition as president by the West);
  • ideological unification of the state policy, its complete subjection to political directives;
  • failure of the regime’s positive agenda, change (starting late May) to the strategy of mass repression;
  • foreign policy default: return to political confrontation with the West, including defiant acts and military declarations;
  • fixation on Russia (starting the second half of the year): Belarus’s increased political, military and economic dependence on the Russian Federation, degradation of Belarus’s state sovereignty;
  • growing economic risks and threats (financial stability, inflation behavior, fiscal policy, state debt management) as a result of a specific anti-crisis policy;
  • marked narrowing of access to international financial markets, which exacerbates the challenge of repayment and servicing of the external debt of Belarusian residents.

Since 2003, the Belarusian Yearbook project has evolved as a joint endeavor of the Belarusian expert community to compile, conceptualize, and deliver a chronicle of Belarus’s contemporary history.

Contributing to Belarusian Yearbook 2021 were independent analysts and experts, as well as specialists representing various think tanks, including the Institute of Political Studies “Political Sphere”, Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), Belarusian Institute for Public Administration Reform and Transformation (BIPART), School of Young Managers in Public Administration (SYMPA), Minsk Dialogue Expert Initiative, Ostrogorski Centre, Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC), Macrocenter Macroeconomic Research Center, Belarus Security Blog analytical project, Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism (Kyiv), Institute of International Relations (Warsaw, Poland), Public Bologna Committee, Agency for Social and Political Expert Appraisal (Vilnius), portal and the website of the expert community of Belarus Nashe Mnenie (“Our Opinion”).