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BULLETINS INFOFOCUS № 5

E-bulletin of IISEPS Center for Documentation, N 5, 2008 – ISSN 1822-5578 (only Russian)

Content:

Introduction
1. Basic trends of May
2. Chronicle of key events
3. Politics

3.1. The spiral of the conflict
3.2. A Belarusian friend
3.3. To take part or not to take part
3.4. The last one in the Grodno region
4. Economics
4.1. Once more about the luck of the muddle-headed
4.2. Race after the leader
4.3. An analysis of the “reforms”
5. Finances
5.1. The ruined “oasis”
5.2. Neutralization of the political aspect
6. Good news
7. Our forecast for June

Introduction:

Dear readers!

The Belarusian-American crisis kept remaining the most important topic in the informational field of Belarus. As we supposed, “resoluteness of the Belarusian part displayed in the last days of April” had not let the parts to sit down to the bargaining table. The game of diplomatic volleyball went on. Analysts, as well as the public, had a chance to follow the servings, grips of the ball and its transfer after short passes to the side of the opponent during the whole last month.
The promise of J. Moore, the temporary charge d’affaires of the USA in Belarus, was realized in May: Washington published the list of Belarusian enterprises on which the sanctions, applied against the concern “Belheftehim” before, had been spread. Lida “Lakokraska”, Polotsk “Steklovolokno” and the Republican unitary enterprise “Belarusian oil firm” turned out to be on the list. Vice-chairman of the concern “Belneftehim” M. Osipenko assessed the consequences of the new sanctions as “insignificant”. Most likely, if one calculates direct losses, it is really so. Yet, it is necessary to keep in mind the plans of the Belarusian authorities to increase the rating of Belarus investment appeal up to the level of highly developed countries. However, it is going to be not so easy to combine what is agreeable for investors with what is useful for the authoritarian regime.
The reaction of Russia towards the Belarusian-American crisis (to put it more precisely-complete absence of any reaction) turned out to be as it had been expected. Contrary to the wish of A. Lukashenko, the head of the Union State, the third president of Russia D. Medvedev made his first official visit to Kazakhstan and China and not to Belarus. Probably it was impossible to send a more unambiguous foreign policy signal.
On the other hand, our hopes for Europe were not justified. Perhaps, Europe decided to finally work out unified policy towards Belarus based upon the results of the parliamentary elections which are to take place at the end of September. However, taking into account economic interest of European consumers in Belarusian oil products, it is not going to come down to direct economic sanctions in any case.
As it had been expected, A. Lukashenko did not manage to deal with the corrupt ones in May. The head of state did not keep his promise. Perhaps, he flew into a passion when having divagated from the text of the message he declared literally the following: “Name at least one fact from my president life when I said one thing and did another”. Today it is possible to name such a fact even without referring to archives.
One more time we made a blunder in our forecast concerning the congress of the non-government organization “Belaya Rus”. Regardless of the fact that the date of the congress had been announced (May, 17), the congress did not take place. Something does not turn out there. However, this fact, deplorable for the state “public men”, has finally destroyed the hypothesis of A. Lukashenko’s interest in creating his own “party of power”. After the May incident it can be unambiguously stated that the non-government organization “Belaya Rus” is a purely lobbyist project, which its initiators are trying to impose on the head of state. He is resisting and so far with success.
In conclusion let us talk about the foreign trade balance. In January and February of 2008 the balance of foreign trade in goods and services made up only $ 20.6 mil. Against the background of the last year’s $ 3 bln such a trifle could be left unnoticed. However, we supposed that one could expect a significant growth of the balance in accordance with the three months results. Our forecast has come true. In the first quarter of 2008 a negative balance of foreign trade in goods and services at the rate of $ 220.5 mil developed. So far the government manages to meet the schedule as far as the given showing is concerned (the forecast for the year is $ 1.4 bln up to $ 1.42 bln). However, increase of negative tendencies in trade with Russia might make the relative success of the first quarter null and void.

IISEPS executive board

 
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