BISS presents the first issue of BISS-Timeline, monthly monitoring of trends in political, economic, social and cultural spheres taken place in January.
The most important foreign policy trend of the month was renewed efforts of the official Minsk to improve the relations with the West. However, despite a number of the high-level meetings with the representatives of the European Union, the U.S. and the Council of Europe, no specific changes towards the normalization of the relations occured.
Despite the attempt of the Belarusian authorities to initiate the negotiation about the oil supplies for 2013 after January 10, nothing was learned about the resumption of the negotiation on this issue in January. Apparently, Russia decided to change the oil agreements format from the annual to quarterly. Meanwhile, the adjustments to the oil supplies for the next 3 months will depend on whether Belarus implements the fuel supplies to the Russian market. This was the Kremlin’s response to the controversial “solvents scheme” practiced by Minsk and the failure of the latter to fulfil the agreements about the deliveries of the oil products to the Russian market.
In the social sphere, certain quantitative rather than qualitative changes were observed. With the prices and tariffs growing, the Government forcibly introduced a number of measures to increase the social support for the certain population groups. These measures included an increase in the minimum consumer budget, tariff wage rate of the first level and child allowances for families. No significant steps were taken to reform the pension, education, or the health care systems.
Belarusian authorities continue restraining the certain manifestations of cultural life in the country. The restrictions and bans on freedom of creativity persist, politicization and indoctrination of the national cultural policy continues. The main event within the official cultural discourse was the presentation of the annual awards “For Spiritual Revival” and the special Presidential prizes in the field of culture and arts. The main events within the informal cultural discourse were the extension of the banned performers list and the award of the “Brand Person 2012” title to Syarhei Mikhalok and Lavon Volski.
Read January BISS-Timeline in pdf-format