Sixth issue of the BISS Trends (March—May 2011)

Sixth issue of the BISS Trends (March—May 2011)

Deterioration, setback, recession – there are hardly any other words to describe the five trends we monitor. It seems time was running faster in the spring of 2011: trials of political prisoners, Minsk metro bombing, full-scale currency crisis, Belarusian ruble devaluation…

The general pessimism tends to reveal the things that used to be vague and doubtful. Firstly, the Belarusian regime is hardly able to pursue even a cosmetic democratization; secondly, the government is not ready to undertake the necessary economic reforms, still keeping to the previous inefficient model; thirdly, the Belarusian authorities are short both of the action plan to surmount the crisis (to say nothing of a strategic vision of the country’s sustainable development in the long run) and a professional team of top managers. Furthermore, the regime proved helpless when faced with spontaneous social protests, which occur because of the price hikes, absence of foreign exchange and major changes in welfare patterns of an average Belarusian.

In the political liberalization and democratization domain, the setback is quite significant. Repression has affected almost all spheres of life of Belarusian society.

Instead of the promised economic liberalization, the authorities have made a huge step back. The government has reestablished administrative levers, the so-called “manual control” of economic processes, in order to stabilize the situation in the country.

When it comes to the quality of governance and rule of law, we observe selective enforcement, which represents a throwback from the previous period.

The geopolitical trend is still characterized by (at the very least) a pause, or “timeout”, as President Lukashenka put it, in Belarus’ relations with the European Union; and the growing gravitation of Russia, which, amid the shortage of balance from the West, imposes new rules of the game on the Belarusian president.

The repression aimed against civil society has eventually had a serious impact on the country’s culture policy. “Black lists” of unwanted musicians and writers prompt a sad return to the darkest USSR times.

Read the full version of the monitoring in pdf