E-bulletin of IISEPS Center for Documentation, N 1, 2007 – ISSN 1822-5578 (only Russian)



Theme of the month:
Election into Local Councils of Deputies: Finding Solution or Just Talking?

Person of the month:
Alexander Lukashenko: Tactic Move or New Strategy?

Document of the month:
Oil Agreement: End or Another Stage of the Conflict?

Organization of the month:
PACE Initiative: Will Belarus Respond?


Dear readers!


This January issue of Infofocus is in a certain sense an anniversary issue. This is not a good round figure but publication of the 60th issue shows that our bulletin has been out for 5 years already. Not every independent edition in Belarus can boast with such life period. We couldn’t avoid this Belarusian peculiarity either. Our editorial activity moved to Vilnius, Lithuania. However, this in no way affected the subject matter of the bulletin. We hope this didn’t affect the quality as well.
Election into the Local Council of Deputies is the “Topic of Month” in January. Unlike parliamentary and especially presidential elections, its role in the political life of Belarus is very insignificant. In view of the nature of authoritarian power, the local level is given executive functions only. In the opinion of A. Lukashenko, deputies of Local Councils “need to solve particular issues and not get involved into mere talking-shop or intrigue-making.” At the same time Speaker of the House of Representatives V. Konoplev is proud that the Belarusian Parliament denounced “political ambitions” some time ago. All in all, according to the official data presented by the Central Election Committee, turn-out of voters appeared pretty high (79.2%). This is taking into account absence of any mobilization campaign in the state-run mass media. However, IISEPS sociologists registered (in October of 2006) quite a different situation: 43.8% of Belarusians stand against expansion of powers for Local Councils (34.0% of respondents stick to the opposite viewpoint). This expounds for our questions in this column. How reliable is the official data? What’s the reason of the electoral activity of Belarusians? Where’s then a place in Belarus for a politician? How to explain a high percentage of those who refused to come to election? We asked these questions to our experts Georgy Atamanov, member of the Central Committee at the Communist Party of Belarus, and Valentina Svyatskaya, member of Seym at the Belarusian Popular Front and member of public association Adradzhenne (Revival).
This time our “Person of Month” column has been given to A. Lukashenko. Leadership of the head of state in TV newsreels doesn’t surprise anymore. However, such often appearance of his figure on the screen wasn’t observed since March of 2006. The December gas conflict transformed in January into the oil conflict. It is well known such disputes of the two economic entities of the Union State cannot be solved without direct participation of presidents. Why is the politics in Russia and Belarus president-centered? Why was it in the New Year congratulation speech that A. Lukashenko first informed the society about serious dissention with Russia? What was it, another tactic move or new strategy? Is it possible to single out personal from the state and national in the many presidential statements? We offer you the opinion of our expert political scientist Victor Chernov. Unfortunately, we failed to find a public sector expert willing to comment on the activity of the head of state.
Our “Document of Month” in January is the Agreement between Russian and Belarusian governments on the measures to regulate trade and economic cooperation in the oil field. This Agreement signed on January 12 stopped an almost launched trade war between Union State members. Judging by the many official statements, the Union is entering the market stage of its inner relations. Therefore, our questions are as follows. Is the crisis period in Russia-Belarus relations, as A. Lukashenko called it, is over, or we have just witnessed its beginning? What does it have from the real market and what from politics? Are we to expect considerable adjustment of the Belarusian economic model? Our experts in this column are journalist of Sovetskaya Belarus Dmitry Kryat and political scientist Valery Karbalevich.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is our “Organization of Month” this time. Experts here are Sergei Kostyan, Deputy of the Parliamentary House of Representatives, and Pavliuk Bykovsky, political observer for the newspaper Belorusy i Rynok (Belarusians and Market). They will give their opinions on the ‘window of possibilities’ in Belarus-Europe relations as the result of Russia-Belarus conflict and on possible reciprocating steps of Belarus in response to PACE Head’s visit to Belarus.

IISEPS executive board

Download full version (in Russian only)