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Belarus in Focus
Online guide for journalists writing about Belarus. Find out who's who in business, society or politics, get practical tips and contacts, and read about other journalists' experiences. Got some more questions? Get in touch with us.
Belarusian authorities show little interest in higher turnout

The Belarusian authorities seek to keep the elections low-profile by censoring some critical speeches by opposition candidates and reducing... | 29.08.16 

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OverviewFinalistsJudgesRulesArticlesHow to enterBelarus in Focus 2011


30 Jan

Alexander Tolcinský (Czech Republic)

Czech Radio, July 3, 2012

Will Belarus become a monarchy? 805

Maybe you know the joke, maybe not. It’s basically as follows: Two Belarusians meet. One says: “What do you think? Will Lukashenko run for president again?” “Definitely not,” replies the other. “What do you mean?” asks the first. “His coronation is next week,” finishes the other.

28 Jan

Ihar Tsikhanenka (Belarus)

Voice of America, May 5, 2012

John McCain on Putin, Lukashenko and Ukraine's missed opportunities (Excerpt)720

Senator McCain, a few days ago, you came back from Vilnius, where you took part in the Parliamentary Forum for Democracies. Could you explain what kind of political venue was that?

28 Jan

Ihar Tsikhanenka (Belarus)

Voice of America, November 28, 2011

Vitebsk lads that blew up Belarus… 713

Punishment without crime: two young men can be executed without being proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

28 Jan

Annabelle Chapman (United Kingdom)

New Eastern Europe, August 10, 2012

Behind the Scenes - Belarus Free Theatre730

Evening. A leafy Oxford suburb in early summer. I take my place in the theatre amid academics and indefinite Russophiles, knowing that as soon as the lights dim, I will be transported far away. This is Minsk 2011, performed by the legendary Belarus Free Theatre.

28 Jan

Anna Prazhina (Russia)

Afisha-Mir (Mir travel magazine), November 1, 2012

A Letter from Belarus. Khutor Wolk 681

“You go past the direction sign to Polatsk, then past Hlybokaje, turn right off the main road at the sign Valki, and after the Paryzh sign go up the hill to your right. There you’ll see our khutor Wolk”. Those were the directions given to me by Evgeniy.

28 Jan

Annabelle Chapman (United Kingdom)

New Eastern Europe, December 24, 2011

Dissecting the Dream728

One year has passed since Belarus’s latest Presidential election. On 19 December 2010, Alexander Lukashenko was reelected in a rigged contest and the resulting protests repressed with unprecedented brutality. These events are revisited in a new documentary film, Belarusian Dream

28 Jan

Sara Bicchierini (Italy)

Io donna, November 19, 2011

“That’s why we fled Belarus, the last dictatorship in Europe” 789

The journalist Natalya experienced jail. Vera, the lawyer, had to leave her son. Now they live in exile, but they keep on fighting for their country. Without freedom.

28 Jan

Katarzyna Kwiatkowska (Poland)

Polityka, July 24, 2012

Operation Successor834

Foreign PR advisors insisted that his son should have warmed the Belarusian dictator’s image. Alexander Lukashenka took their advice to heart, yet, as usual, he overdid it

24 Jan

Daniela Araya (Costa Rica) Newspaper, February 23, 2012

Hungry of Freedom: Political Prisoners across the world742

They are hungry of freedom, justice does not satisfy, hunger and thirst that steal their breath and condemned them to suffer torture and physical punishments. They are people who have opted to hold their hunger to tell the world they are political prisoners and they do not have freedom on behalf of their ideological choices. Political prisoners, birds jailed by governments.

24 Jan

Daniela Araya (Costa Rica) Newspaper, March 25, 2012

Death Penalty takes away lives around the globe795

Capital punishment exists in many countries all over the world, where they execute the lives of criminals but, also some innocents whose cases have landed in the hands of the executioner. In these cases there is no going back, to those dead there is no return to life and to those condemned to death, who might restore them their lives?

24 Jan

Laurent Vinatier (France)

Global Journal, December 28, 2012

A Dictatorship’s Success Stories 1041

Aleksandr Lukashenko is resilient. The President of Belarus has stood firm against the European Union (EU) and its renewed political and economic sanctions in response to his increasingly autocratic rule. In six months, he has freed two political prisoners while a dozen remain in custody. On September 23, nationwide parliamentary elections ran smoothly in an atmosphere of total indifference from the great majority of the population. Russia, for its part, supports Belarus with financial subsidies, ready to buy out everything possible at discounted prices.

22 Jan

David Erkomaishvili (Uzbekistan)

The Point Journal, August 3, 2012

Belarus - Georgia: Unexpected Allies764

Belarus is no stranger when it comes to hurdle in relations with Russia, however, this is not the only resemblance in Belarus-Georgia nexus which steadily develops.

22 Jan

David Erkomaishvili (Uzbekistan)

The Point Journal, January 17, 2012

Belarus’ post-Soviet Alliances848

Ukraine is trying to avoid following the Belarusian model of post-Soviet alignment which offers deep integration only with Russia. Unlike his Ukrainian colleagues, Aliaksandr Lukashenka has not managed to diversify his country’s alliance choices.

22 Jan

Lukasz Jasina, Tomasz Zawisko (Poland)

Liberal Culture, June 19, 2012

We would easily win against Lukashenko...1355

We would easily win against Lukashenko if he were not in our heads. Lukasz Jasina and Tomasz Zawisko talk to Aleksander Milinkevich

22 Jan

Dmitry Bobrovsky (Belarus)

Tatarstan, December 22, 2012

Is it worth for Tatarstan to improve its image as Belarus did?786

Each state has its own image. But not all countries have an image that has been purposefully formed, and which works on the economy of a state.

21 Jan

Natalia Antelava (Georgia)

BBC, October 22, 2012

'Europe's last dictator' Belarus' Lukashenko opens up906

The question came out of nowhere - and it caught the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, off guard. "So, what’s your opinion on group sex?" asked Evgeny Lebedev, Britain’s youngest newspaper proprietor, who had flown to Minsk to interview the Belarusian leader.

21 Jan

Daniela Araya (Costa Rica)

América Economía Newspaper, October 23, 2012

Minsk: A Living Museum of Socialism742

Although the real tourists that visit Minsk are few, those who do visit find an interesting space; frozen in time, imposing and even mythological, the streets of the Belarusian capital are a living museum.

21 Jan

Irina Peredriy (Belarus)

Belarus Project, December 13, 2012

Leaving Belarus is not emigration, it’s evacuation704

This Belarus emigration joke on Facebook regularly collects hundreds of “likes” and “shares” on the Belarusian internet. This humour is based on the new Belarusian dream.

21 Jan

Irina Peredriy (Belarus)

Belarus Project, November 15, 2012

Bologna Process: last outsider in Europe899

The Bologna Process is an educational reform and series of agreements between European countries that aims to create a united European Higher Education Area. The main advantages of this system are the establishment a common basis for higher education, and the consequent possibility to move from one country to another for studying or working. The Bologna Declaration was signed in 1999 by 29 European countries. Today 47 countries are involved in Bologna Process; but there is a blank spot on the European educational map – it’s Belarus.

21 Jan

Irina Peredriy (Belarus)

Belarus Project, December 20, 2012

Belarus emigration: Why do people return to Belarus?959

The first part of our article - “Here You Don’t Feel Isolated in the Way You Do in Belarus” - focused on people that went away from Belarus and stayed abroad for different reasons. But there are quite a lot of young people who are sure that Belarus is still the best place to live. So here we offer your attention three stories of young people who think that coming back was the only right choice.

21 Jan

Dmitry Bobrovsky (Belarus), December 10, 2012

KAMAZ and MAZ merge on the edge of failure797

The process of merging the Russian KAMAZ and the Belarusian MAZ drags on. Officials of two countries constantly declare that they are close to reaching agreement about a project to create an automobile holding called "Rosbelavto". The day before, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, declared that the final agreement on all disputed issues will take a while. It is not out of the question that the association may not happen at all.

16 Jan

Lukasz Grajewski (Poland), January 16, 2012

Famous Twitter Users797

There is a place in Belarus where a spokesperson of the government talks with an oppositional journalist and Minsk authorities debate with citizens about upcoming demonstrations. Belarusian freedom of speech is flourishing in the Internet

16 Jan

Lukasz Grajewski (Poland), February 7, 2012

More And More Magnificent Castles714

We seldom have a reason for praising Belarusian authorities here on Usually, they just give us none. However, actions of the Belarusian Ministry of Culture within the framework of the “Castles of Belarus” programme are noteworthy.

16 Jan

Lukasz Grajewski (Poland), July 6, 2012

Rebuilding Minsk – Counting in Yuans744

The Minsk airport is to be rebuilt – the planned extensions include a new runway, a terminal and a hotel. Costs of the investment will be covered by a loan from China. This is how the Chinese investment expansion in Belarus begins.

16 Jan

G.C. (United Kingdom)

The Economist (blog), April 17, 2012

Released but not defrosted 747

The title is ponderous but the idea is exciting. On April 16th Poland launched the first seminar in a series entitled "The European Dialogue on Modernisation with Belarusian Society". This is a new European Union initiative to try to engage business and other non-government elements to ponder what Belarus might look like if Aleksandr Lukashenko [Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Belarusian] left power or (even less likely) saw the light of liberalism and agreed to radical change.

16 Jan

Darya Firsava (Belarus)

Belarus Digest, December 11, 2012

Social Orphans In Belarus: Alcohol Takes Its Toll770

The number of cases of parents being deprived of their parental rights in Belarus is very high compared to other European countries.

16 Jan

Darya Firsava (Belarus)

Belarus Digest, August 16, 2012

Programmers In Belarus: The Cream Of Society806

The 2012 university admissions campaign in Belarus has just finished and reflects a very interesting trend. However good Belarusian higher education is for engineers, physicists, and mathematicians, that does not seem to matter to young people anymore. They want to become programmers

15 Jan

Hanna Farhana Fauzie (Indonesia)

Seputar Indonesia, December 29, 2012

Indulging Your Eyes in Belarus 986

What crosses your mind when you hear about Belarus? For sport freaks, the country beauty Victoria Azarenka or the former Barcelona ace Aliaksandr Hleb, may be the reply.

15 Jan

Michal Potocki (Poland)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, November 15, 2012

Lukashenka Strikes at the West with… Immigrants754

The Polish Border Guard fell victim to the cold war between the West and Belarus. The authorities in Minsk deliberately close their eyes to illegal immigrants, who make their way towards Poland and further to the West.

14 Jan

Michal Potocki (Poland)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, September 28, 2012

Split Personality Intersection729

Behind our eastern border not one, but three Belaruses exist. One lives under the white-red-white flag and the Pahonia as the coat of arms. Over the heads of the other one flows the red-green flag, not much different from the one from the Soviet era. The third, and the biggest, has no flag and no coat of arms. It only has a slogan: ‘leave us alone.’ Both the other Belaruses are trying to win this silent majority. Each one of them is afraid of the other two.

14 Jan

Michal Potocki (Poland)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, December 21, 2011

The West Rescues Lukashenka725

A year after the presidential elections in Belarus, during which Alaksandar Lukashenka pacified the opposition, the EU sanctions against Minsk remain fiction. The regime has serious economic problems, but the West helps it to endure, widely opening its markets for Belarusian goods.

14 Jan

Marek Zambrzycki (Poland)

Portal, December 29, 2012

The Scapegoat behind the river Bug780

The present, post-soviet Belarus is a country, whose system is based on the inelastic and inefficient planned economy, which represents antinomy of the market. It also provokes economic depressions on a regular basis.

14 Jan

Marta Palombo (Italy)

Belarus Project, January 19, 2012

European view on Belarus845

How interesting is Belarus for Europeans? This was the question held in mind by a group of students of European Affairs in Sciences Po Paris, who have been conducting for already three months a project dedicated to Belarus, “Belarus Project”. To find the answer to this question, they have interviewed about 233 young, and not so, people from Europe and from all over the world.

14 Jan

Marta Palombo (Italy)

Belarus Project, December 11, 2011

Europe’s (Far) East749

Belarus could have a lot more in common with Asia than we think.

14 Jan

Artyom Pugachev (Belarus)

Belarus Project, October 27, 2012

Belarus, who? – a quest for Belarusian national identity732

National identity and independence are very popular topics in Europe. The 19th century ideas of nationhood gave space to the vocal calls for independence coming from strong national regions such as Catalonia, Scotland and others. Today, as in the past it is for the strong nation to “demand” independence, though not in case of Belarus.

14 Jan

Artyom Pugachev (Belarus)

Nouvelle Europe, January 9, 2012

Belarusians’ bad dream: Populism776

After the fall of the Soviet Union, populism emerged in the Belarusian political context as an effective instrument to come to power and to retain it. A democratically elected president, Alexander Lukashenko, has been governing since 1994; his unique leadership style continuously attracts the attention of the international community, not least because of its populist character.

14 Jan

Marta Palombo (Italy)

Belarus Project, December 4, 2011

A (hi)story of Belarus700

It is commonly believed that the term Belarus – also because of its former name, “Belorussia” – comes from “bielyi", meaning white, and “Rus", meaning Russian. Well, if the intuition is correct for “white”, the issue with “Rus” is actually more complicated. Let’s see together why.

14 Jan

James Kirchick (United States)

Ha'aretz, March 9, 2012

Israel's Man in Minsk Should Start Reading the Paper704

The next time the Foreign Ministry decries Israel’s increasing isolation, perhaps it should reconsider its official position that Andrei Sannikov does not exist

14 Jan

Nadine Lashuk (Germany)

Belarus Digest, March 8, 2012

Women's Day in Belarus: Celebrating the Real Heroes764

On 8 March, Belarusians celebrate International Women’s Day. In the tradition of the Soviet Union, there is no special day for lovers such as Valentine’s Day, but men and women have separate holidays. This is the time to look at the relations between men and women in Belarus. Although both are equal in front of the law, in reality, women are not as equal as men.

14 Jan

Nadine Lashuk (Germany)

Belarus Digest, February 3, 2012

How to Survive on 200 Dollars a Month705

Although prices in Belarus are as high as in any European country, salaries are very low. The average monthly income is around USD 200, but people still manage to buy food, flats and smart phones. How is it possible to make ends meet with such a low income?

14 Jan

Nadine Lashuk (Germany)

Belarus Digest, April 18, 2012

Germany and Belarus: Why People’s Diplomacy Doesn’t Work694

The argument for loosening the visa regime for Belarusian citizen is that people to people contacts must improve. At a time when the official diplomatic relations are at an all-time low, it seems that the exchange between ordinary people offers a glimpse of hope. It might prevent the Belarusian citizen from total isolation. However, looking at the German-Belarusian informal relations, it gets clear that it may not work. Here is why.

11 Jan

Matthew Day (United Kingdom)

The Scotsman, December 21, 2012

Belarus’ Lukashenko praises secret police for similarity to feared Cheka force 681

The authoritarian president of Belarus has praised his regime’s secret police as representing the “best traditions” of the Cheka, the feared forerunner of Soviet Russia’s KGB.

11 Jan

Andrzej Tichomirow (Belarus)

Belarusian Review, November 28, 2012

The Second International Congress of Belarusian Studies697

The First Congress, held last year, was a very interesting place for exchanging ideas and experience among various researchers in the humanities engaged in Belarusian problems.

7 Jan

Horia-Victor Lefter (Romania)

New Eastern Europe, October 1, 2012

Shades of Belarus 757

Belarus, a country located in the centre of Europe, has been giving the impression of examining the question of the alternatives between the European Union and the Russian Federation. Does the average Belarusian feel they have to make this choice?

7 Jan

Horia-Victor Lefter (Romania)

New Eastern Europe, February 29, 2012

Belarus: Defining a European policy between the EU’s East and West733

After the December 2010 elections and the repression that followed, Belarus and the European Union have fallen once more out of love. In this context of isolation, questions are raised whether the European Union has defined the best strategy towards Belarus. Far from reaching a consensus among the EU’s member countries, western Europe seems to have the most ambiguous position

7 Jan

Jan-Henry Wanink (Germany)

Grafschafter Nachrichten, December 1, 2012

Belarus by bike: beautiful white spot in the heart of Europe 990

Aid projects for the victims of Chernobyl, that is the first image many inhabitants of the German County of Bentheim have when they think of Belarus, or White Russia.

7 Jan

Olga Polevikova (Belarus), December 27, 2012

From Ireland with Love 846

Her name is Vivienne Long. She is a 32-year old Irishwoman who has spent last 10 years in a small Belarusian town of Cherven’ taking care of local children with mental disabilities. Here, in the backwoods of Europe, she found her love – a local girl Natallia – and experienced a real life. Sounds like a new TV series for teenagers? Just the ways of God 60 km from Minsk

23 Dec

Linas Jegelevicius (Lithuania)

The Baltic Times, December 20, 2012

Ubiquitous Belarusians open wallets in politics-rather-than-trade preoccupied Lithuania717

If on a weekend you were to take a closer look at the cars in the vast parking lots at Vilnius Akropolis, the Lithuanian capital’s largest mall, you’ll see that nearly every fifth vehicle - mostly luxurious BMW, Mercedes and Lexus SUVs - carries a red-green-and-ornamented-strip license plate, attributing the vehicle to Belarus. The well-to-do Belarusians’ invasion to the main Vilnius mall has been surging exponentially, competing in growth only with the Russians.

19 Dec

Hanna Vasilevich (Belarus)

Belarusian Review, October 26, 2012

Belarusian Studies: Underestimated Potential709

Belarus can hardly be described as a country which attracts much attention from international scholars and analysts.

19 Dec

Kiryl Kascian (Belarus)

Belarusian Review, July 3, 2012

Simple Mathematics 801

I remember a math problem from my school years: how much time would it take Z to get from point A to point C, traveling through point B? This was quite a simple task, but one has to correctly consider the conditions given in order to get the proper answer.

19 Dec

David Erkomaishvili (Uzbekistan)

Belarusian Review, May 7, 2012

On Indetermination of Geopolitical Choice788

Recent IISEPS poll results have become the bottom line for the editorial by Kiryl Kascian published in Belarusian Review lately. According to the poll, 47% of respondents in mid-2011 would have preferred Belarus’ integration with the EU as their main foreign policy choice, while only 31% of those questioned favoured integration with Russia.

19 Dec

G.C. (United Kingdom)

The Economist (blog), March 29, 2012

Where there is something 772

MIKHAIL GULIN is fretting over a provocative drawing of his that features prominently in a Polish catalogue: "I hope it doesn’t get me in trouble!" he half-jokes.

12 Dec

Laurent Vinatier (France)

Global Voice, December 20, 2011

Belarus: Year 0… Once Again783

It has been one year since the last Presidential election, with its massive fraud, vote-rigging and harsh crackdown against opposition political and civil figures, including, of course, all the inconvenient Presidential candidates.

7 Dec

Andrej Dynko (Belarus)

New York Times, July 16, 2012

Europe’s Last Dictatorship850

LATE last month Andrzej Poczobut, a journalist in Belarus, was indicted on a charge of libel against the country’s president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, after publishing a series of articles that questioned the execution of two men convicted of bombing a Minsk subway station.

3 Dec

Andrew Connelly (United Kingdom)

Cafe Babel European Magazine, October 10, 2012

Religious outlaws of Minsk846

In 2002, Belarus introduced new legislation on religious affairs. Amidst the complex and byzantine instructions, one message was clear – state permission is required to practice religious ceremonies in non-religious buildings. For protestants, who historically have fewer traditional churches, this put them directly in the firing line of the government. Ten years on, how are the conditions of religious freedoms in Minsk under president Lukashenko, self-confessed ‘orthodox atheist’?

15 Nov

Shaun Walker (United Kingdom)

The Independent, December 1, 2011

Europe's last executioner condemns two more to a bullet in the back of the head 730

Their trial for a subway bombing in Belarus raised as many questions as answers. But, amid claims of false confessions and to cries of disgust, two friends have been sentenced to death

15 Nov

Shaun Walker (United Kingdom)

The Independent, December 2, 2011

'Don't kill my son. He is not guilty of bombing the metro' 686

There is only one person who can stop the execution of Lyubov Kovalyova’s 25-year-old son, Vladislav. Unfortunately for her, it is Alexander Lukashenko, the ruthless dictator who has ruled Belarus since 1994. He is not known for his compassion.

14 Nov

Argemino Barro García (Spain)

Cafe Babel European Magazine, October 12, 2012

In Belarus, Lukashenko and Lenin eat journalists for breakfast860

As if getting hold of sources, sniffing out lies and earning a pittance didn’t make a journalist’s profession hard enough in Belarus already, imagine also having to give the KGB the slip or going from one court trial to the next in order to carry out your job. For the reporters living in a post-soviet dictatorship that’s all in a day’s work

7 Nov

Nabeelah Shabbir (United Kingdom)

Cafe Babel European Magazine, October 8, 2012

The lost art of speaking Belarusian in Belarus1045

Since independence from the soviet union in 1991, remnants of Belarus’ titular language stay mostly in the cultural sphere, with around 300, 000 speakers in the country. Young musicians, poets and writers, often from the left end of the spectrum, still try to speak Belarusian against the more popular Russian

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