E-bulletin of IISEPS Center for Documentation, N 2, 2005 (only Russian)



Theme of the month:
Strike of Entrepreneurs: “Instrument of Political Pressure” or “Collapse of Economics”?

Person of the month:
Alexander Kozulin: “Answer to Public Inquiry” or Politician against His Will?

Document of the month:
Draft EU Program of Democracy Promotion in Belarus: “Reasonable and Constructive Approach” or “Evidence of Mutual Inconsistency”?

Organization of the month:
Belarusian Civic Society: Recognition of Services and Advances for Future

From IISEPS Desktop:
“Orange Prospects” in Belarus
Prospects of Democratic Presidential Candidates
President’s Prospects in Belarus: Opinion of Elite
Elite No More Trusts the Authorities, yet It Doesn’t Believe in Changes


Dear readers!


We offer to your attention the next issue of “Infofocus” bulletin. In our opinion, the strike of individual entrepreneurs drew the most attention in February and became the “Issue of Month”. Traders aired their protest against introduction of VAT on the goods imported from Russia. According to the strike organizers, it gathered 30,000 to 60,000 people that is much more than during all other political actions of the past years. Taking into account hired men and family members the general number of entrepreneur community – by different estimates – makes nearly half a million people. This is a very dynamic part of the society and it can’t be ignored by either the authorities or the opposition. Entrepreneurs themselves refrained from any political slogans and underscored that their demands were purely economic. Obviously, the authorities have a different opinion. Thus, Chairman of the Perspective public organization A. Shumchenko was detained right before the strike and given ten days of administrative arrest. The negotiations between small business representatives and the government failed. The entrepreneurs were said that this is the president only who solves all taxation issues. This is why on March 1 they announced a national strike of unlimited duration. What is the way out of the current situation? Will the president help the traders solve their problem? Will the entrepreneurs become a real force that the government will have to take into account? We offer you the opinion of Deputy V. Khrol, House of Representatives, and A. Lapotko, Deputy Chairman of the Perspective association.
We think ex-head of the Belarusian State University A. Kozulin is worthy to become a “Figure of Month”. After months of silence, he stood out with the initiative to form up the People’s Will movement. The name of Kozulin was the first in the list of citizens who signed “Address to the Belarusian People”. Representatives of various social groups from academicians to unemployed, they came up with sharp criticism of the current authorities and appeal to unite and “nominate from the masses new nation leaders”. Apparently, in the opinion of those who signed the address, this is A. Kozulin who is to become such a leader. His actions – readiness to head the uniting Social-Democratic Party and numerous interviews – show that A. Kozulin is going to run for presidency in 2006. Why did former university head decide to move into big politics? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Does he have a chance to become a single presidential candidate for democratic forces? We asked these questions a political scientist V. Karbalevich and Head of the Information Department of the National Press Center P. Akulov.
Right after the USA, Europe has also expresses its willingness to help the Belarusian democracy. Our “Document of Month” proves this. It represents the draft Program of Democracy Promotion in Belarus developed by the European Union. The act has been elaborated by the European Parliament’s working group on relations with Belarus and then submitted to the EU Commission. In particular, it provides for pressure on the Belarusian authorities (closure of personal bank accounts, extension of the list of persons under visa ban, etc.) as well as increasing support of the civic society (opening of alternative sources of information in the neighboring countries, amendment of TACIS regulations, promotion of scientific, youth and cultural exchanges, etc.) Why did the EU follow US example? How efficient will be its assistance to the civic society? What consequences will implementation of the program bring to? To what extent will exterior factor influence democratization in Belarus? We offer you the opinions of political scientist V. Matskevich and Deputy O. Abramova, House of Representatives.
This time the column “Organization of Month” has been given to the Belarusian civic society in general. Its representatives (from Belarusian Association of Journalists, Charter’97, IISEPS, ZUBR, Assembly of Democratic NGO’s and We Remember civic initiative) took part in the international conference “New Challenge for Democracy” in Bratislava, Slovakia, and two of them even met with US President G. Bush. How did it come that the leaders of the Belarusian civic society attended the meeting of the American president with “the champions in democracy”? What does this very meeting mean? How will this event influence the status and activity of the Belarusian third sector and what will be the reaction of the authorities? Here are the viewpoints of S. Matskevich, Head of the working group of the Assembly of Democratic NGO’s, and A. Dulebo, Chairman of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association and one of conference’s organizers.
In conclusion, “IISEPS Desktop” offers to your attention the most important findings of the opinion poll among public opinion leaders and experts conducted by the Institute in January.
We hope that you will find these materials helpful and interesting. All comments and requests are as usual welcome!

IISEPS executive board

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