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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.
Lower gas prices for Belarus will strengthen Russian rouble influence in Belarus

According to preliminary information, Russian natural gas price might change for Belarus from USD 132 per 1 cubic metre to USD 100 per cubic metre... | 29.08.16 

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15 Nov

Vladimir Baranich (Belarus)

Invisible people

Belarus remains one of the most unfriendly countries in Europe for people with disabilities. There are many criteria to evaluate a country from a glance. Somebody looks for beauties, architecture, nature etc. Everybody finds something to be surprised, to have former ideas to be shaken. I remember when in 1991 I went to the US as a student, it was Soviet Union, the Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan called it that time, if one forgets.

15 Nov

Tereza Supova (Czech Republic)

Lidove noviny

Letters to belarusian prisoners

I met her for the first time in 2007. She was 24 and already had been helping people, who were imprisoned for no reason, lost their jobs or were kicked out of universities. I remember that the weather was really cold at that time in Minsk, temperatures around zero, but the heating in my hotel was totally off.

15 Nov

Kiryl Kascian (Belarus)

Transitions Online

Does Poland Really Know Belarus?

Jarosław Kaczyński’s critique of current Polish policy toward Belarus reveals how outmoded thinking is damaging Belarusian civil society. The title of a recent article by Jarosław Kaczyński, ”Sikorski Lost Belarus,”unambiguously signals the formerPolish prime minister’s intent to lambaste the Polish diplomatic chief, Radosław Sikorski, and his boss, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, for the failure of Poland’s Belarus policy.

15 Nov

Kiryl Kascian (Belarus)

Belarusian Review, vol. 23, no. 3.

Russian imperialist policies in ice-hockey

A recent scandal concerning the name transliteration raised by a prominent Russian ice-hockey star Alexei Kovalev who has been transferred from the NHL club Pittsburgh Penguins to the Continental Hockey League (KHL) club Atlant Mytishchi raised many issues on the discriminatory policies applied by the Russian- based KHL officials.

15 Nov

Aleh Bartsevich (Poland)

Wirtualna Polska

The most popular dark joke of this year's season

‘Happy New Year 1937!’ Probably that is the most popular dark joke of this year’s holiday season in Belarus. Similarities with the height of the repressions during the Stalinists period are obvious: KGB officers were bursting into people’s flats while bottles of champagne were being opened.

15 Nov

Magdalena Bożko (Poland)

Dziennik Wschodni

Speak loudly about what others only whisper

Interview with Natalka Babina, Belarusian writer and journalist. -Fear. Do you know this feeling? - Yes, of course, like any man. I am generally very fearful. I'm afraid of everything: the health of my children and my grandmother, my house, wchich can be damaged by flood... But if you want to know whether I am afraid of Lukashenko's government and repression on their part: no, I'm not afraid. I do not want and can not be afraid. They are too pitied, to be afraid of them.

15 Nov

Michał Potocki (Poland)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna

Lukashenka's regime in utter ruins, Belarus clutched by crisis

Belarus has found itself in a state of depression similar to the one which has been experienced by the USSR just after its collapse. The situations is further complicated due to the government control over the economy, the favourite method in the repertoire of the president.

15 Nov

Aleh Bartsevich (Poland)

Wirtualna Polska

It’s like Poles would speak in German

“Poles are not geese and have their own language” – as Mikolaj Rej, the first person in history to write only in Polish, once said. In this sense, we Belarusians can be called geese. Though we have our own language, we don’t use it.

15 Nov

Ugis Libietis (Latvia)

Latvijas Radio

Minsk - silent protests and detention

Already for couple of weeks, every Wednesday people gather in one of the squares of Minsk. They just come together and are silent. Sometimes they clap their hands and with this showing their dissatisfaction with the regime of Aleksander Lukashenko and economic crisis which has taken over the country. At the beginning it was only few dosens, later few hundreds and yesterday maybe few thousands of people.

15 Nov

Ulrike Gruska (Germany)

Publik Forum

Otherwise you go mad

Young people transform their despair about the dictatorship in Belarus into theatre plays. The KGB is watching. MINSK. Alesya cannot stand this worn out phrase: "Europe's last dictatorship". This is what comes to people's minds, when they hear that Alesya is from Belarus. For almost 17 years – since autocrate Alexander Lukashenko came to power – this label has been firmly affixed to the country. Even if you scratch it off, an ugly blot remains, through which everything looks somehow bleak and dreary.

15 Nov

Hanna Vasilevich, Kiryl Kascian (Belarus)

Belarus, is Lukashenko Europe's Mugabe?

Two weeks ago the Guardian journalist Timothy Garton Ash wrote an article entitled “Belarus may seem a far away country, but we have to confront Europe's Mugabe”. Here there is the analysis of two young Belarus journalists, collaborators of

15 Nov

Jutta Sommerbauer (Austria)

Newspaper "Die Presse"

The Republic of Fear Upon Decree

After the attack in Minsk, Lukashenko is keeping his people on alert – and is promising a return of the peace by means of severe penalties. Fear in Belarus did not begin only this week, however.Alexander Lukashenko suspected it. The Internet is a danger for the Belarusian people. Foresighted statesman that he is, the Belarusian President decreed as early as February 2010 with ukas number 60 that in his country only those may use the Internet who are prepared to give the authorities their names. Since then it has been obligatory to show identification in Belarusian Internet cafés, and this is also the case for those wishing to buy a prepaid card for wireless access.

15 Nov

Olga Kohl (Germany)

Deutsche Welle

Belarus: solidarity and releases from prison

More than 600 people have been arrested on Election Day in Minsk. Fellow travellers within general public have appealed for activities of solidarity with the detainees. Even from provincial areas election fraud has been reported.

15 Nov

Agnieszka Kamińska (Poland)

Raport Białoruś,

We will give Lukashenka free way to go

Belarussian oppositionist Uladzimir Kobets, who was pressed to take part in 2012 elections as an KGB agent, insists that Belarus should hold new presidential elections. “To hold only parliamentary election is not enough. Belarusian parliament has no powers, moreover KGB are trying to form their own pseudooppositional fraction there“, oppositionist says.

15 Nov

Agnieszka Kamińska (Poland)

Polskie Radio

200 thousand nameless victims of Stalin in Kurapaty

Lavon Barszczeuski: Under Alexander Lukashenka's rule they erected several monuments to Stalin in Belarus, but no memorial was built in Kurapaty. On All Souls Day and Belarusian Forefathers' Eve (Dzyady) Belarussian opposition traditionally organizes a mourning march from Minsk to Kurapaty. Kurapaty is a wooded area near Minsk where thousands of people were executed by NKVD, Soviet secret police, from 1937 to 1941. Historians estimate that it may be a tomb from around 50 thousand to 200-250 thousand victims. Most probably there died 3,872 Poles from so-called Belarusian Katyn massacre list.

15 Nov

Katarzyna Kwiatkowska (Poland)


Black Days in Belaya Rus

This is the end of the country as we know it. The land of Alexander Lukashenko is awaiting radical changes. A traffic jam in the Minsk centre. A man approaches one of the cars, knocks on the side window and says: ‘President Lukashenko has been kidnapped by terrorists for ransom. If they don’t get ten million dollars, they will douse him with petrol and set alight. Lend a helping hand, governor…."For a moment the driver seems to consider, and then replies: "Well… That’s five litres I can chip in."

15 Nov

James Kirchick (United States)

World Affairs Journal

Belarus, the Land of No Applause

Unlike other dictators, who speak of their love for “freedom” and “liberty,” President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus is admirably blunt about his disdain for any trace of liberalism. “We have had so much so-called democracy that it has made us nauseated,” he said in April, after a mysterious bomb struck the Minsk metro, killing eleven in an attack which many Belarusians suspect was the work of the regime itself. From that point forward, he declared, democracy would be “limited to the square meter around where you are standing.”

15 Nov

Agnieszka Kamińska (Poland)

Raport Białoruś,

Lukashenka’s prisoner with "a break in treatment"

After serious back surgery, Belarussian oppositionist Dzmitry Bandarenka was told he will stay on the prison medical ward until the end of the year. Now it turned out he will be send to the penal colony, and this means he may become an invalid. Dzmitry Bandarenka was a fellow-worker of Andrei Sannikau, the opposition candidate in presidential elections in Belarus and the head of the European Belarus campaign. After the demonstration of 19th December Bandarenka was sentenced to two years of penal colony.

15 Nov

Kiryl Kascian (Belarus)

Assisting a Little-known Nation

"Without the history, language, art Without the wisdom of the science A nation will turn into a nameless land." Marek Grechuta, Fatherland. After twenty years of its independence, Belarus can hardly be characterized as a well-known country in the world. Indeed, many people do know that such a country exists, and many can name certain events, people or sport teams that are associated in their minds with Belarus. Probably the most internationally known Belarusian “brands” are Chornobyl and Lukašenka.

14 Nov

Sam Knight (United Kingdom)

Inside the Snow Globe

I was early for Andrei, !fteen minutes at least. I could have called, but it would have been pointless. He refuses to use the phone these days. So I decided to kill time in Park Chelyuskintsev, across the road from his of!ce. It was snowing, of course. At the entrance to the park, which is one of the largest in Minsk and is named for a Soviet steamship that got trapped in polar ice in 1934, a large banner proclaimed Happy Holidays From Your Beloved City.

14 Nov

Polonca Frelih (Slovenia)

Like Fish in an Aquarium that can Sense the Sea

“If you really want to get to know our country, go to a cemetery. Fresh graves will mostly bear photographs of young people. In the lack of promise they take to drinking and drugs; suicides are many. This can’t get to me. I grew up in the Soviet Union and I’m used to suffering,” explains taxi driver Dima while taking me to the press conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held in Belorussia Hotel in Minsk after the Belorussian presidential election.

14 Nov

Horia-Victor Lefter (France)

Le Taurillon

Death penalty: the social developments in favour of its abolition in Belarus

Nowadays, many people are accustomed to the idea that the death penalty was abolished in Europe. Nevertheless, the fact that it is still used elsewhere shows that the fight for its abolition is far from over. Indeed, according to abolitionists, it is still imperative to talk about it in order to put an end to executions, and even to prevent its reinstatement. Experience shows that it lasts longer when the death penalty is abolished by means of reason, rather than violence. And if many are preoccupied by the United States, China or, even Iran, few know that the same situation takes place in the heart of the Old Continent.

13 Nov

Katarzyna Wróbel (Germany)

Forgotten Belarus, Forgotten EU?

Nearly half a year ago the EU observed with bated breath the tense situation in Belarus after the presidential elections that took place on December 19, 2011. In the Western media there was no day without information about further detentions, breaking human rights or torture of people who had taken part in demonstrations against the result of the elections.

12 Nov

Gesine Dornblueth (Germany)

Deutschlandradio Kultur

Is the end of Lukashenka’s regime coming soon?

The prices go up; the resentment of the people grows. In more and more Belarusian cities, people protest against their authoritarian regime; but President Alexander Lukashenka wants to ride out the crisis.

10 Nov

Laurent Vinatier (France)

The Global Journal

Can Belarus Be Saved?

In Europe there remains one prime dictator, heir of the soviet era, who has kept Belarus barred from other nations and under his yoke since 1994. However, voices are being raised, notably in Poland where they find refuge and help. Once Warsaw takes up its European Presidency, look out for those indomitable Belarusian democrats!

10 Nov

Dimiter Kenarov (Bulgaria)

The Virginia Quarterly Review

A Threat to Public Order

Or, How My Love of Belarusian Tractors Got Me Arrested by the KGB. "From the Soviet Union they sent us a Belarus tractor, a pretty onewith a plow."—Bulgarian song

9 Nov

Hanna Vasilevich (Belarus)

Belarusian Review, vol. 23, no. 2.

Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, Russian Interests and Lithuanian Protests

Recent debates concerning the intergovernmental agreement between Belarus and Russia signed on March 15 on cooperation in the construction of a new nuclear power plant, which is supposed to be located near Astraviec close to the Lithuanian border, have warmed up due to the catastrophe at the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima.

9 Nov

James Kirchick (United States)

The New Republic

Mayhem in Minsk: A dispatch from inside President Lukashenko’s brutal election crackdown.

Minsk, Belarus—On Sunday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was reelected to five more years in office. He garnered 80 percent of the vote, according to official numbers. In past elections, Lukashenko, often called “Europe’s last dictator,” all but prevented anyone from directly challenging him.

9 Nov

Hanna Vasilevich (Belarus)

The Three Wounds of Belarus

Major international attention was directed toward Belarus after the December 2010 elections, primarily in connection with the imprisonment of ex-candidates for the presidency and participants in the protest rally on December 19, 2011.

8 Nov

Shaun Walker (United Kingdom)

The Independent

Truth behind the pageantry: jail for dissidents in Europe's last dictatorship

Tanks and missiles rolled through the streets, military aircraft roared in the sky and thousands of troops marched past the podium saluting the President. Later, columns of costumed schoolchildren stretching as far as the eye could see danced in formation to the tinny refrain of "Belarus! My homeland!" coming from the loudspeakers.

8 Nov

Shaun Walker (United Kingdom)

Theatre's act of defiance in Europe's last dictatorship

On a quiet street strewn with weeds in the suburbs of Minsk, a few dozen people file into the knocked-through living room of a dilapidated bungalow.

7 Nov

Brendan McCall (Norway)

When Theatre is 'Thoughtcrime'

In 1958, Harold Pinter wrote that there are “no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” (1)

6 Nov

James Kirchick (United States)

Washington Post

In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is Playing at Reform

The man known as Europe’s last dictator made a startling announcement last week: Come early October, he will release all of the political prisoners in his jails. For 17 years, Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus in much the way that it was run as a Soviet socialist republic

4 Nov

Mathew Charles (United Kingdom)


Europe's Sad Exception

As the EU struggles to gain leverage over autocratic Belarus, Mathew Charles reports on the desperate plight of President Lukashenko’s persecuted opponents

4 Nov

Mathew Charles (United Kingdom)

BBC News Online

Belarus 'tortured protesters in jail'

A former opposition candidate in the Belarus presidential election has alleged that he suffered human rights abuses while in detention. Ales Mikhalevich, who was arrested after a crackdown on the opposition in December, accused security forces of using both physical and mental torture.

4 Nov

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Valentín Humeòanský ()

Lukashenko is destined to fall

"If Belarus held a second round of presidential elections and the elections were not rigged, Alexander Lukashenko would lose them," said the representative of the opposition Belarusian Christian Democracy Dzianis Sadouski yesterday (2 March 2011).

2 Nov

Tatsiana Hurynovich (Belarus)

"Nouvelle Europe"

Why do Belarusians go to Western countries to study?

According to statistics, Belarusians tend to leave their country to study in Western countries. They also seem to prefer European universities. Belarusian authorities are doing everything to encourage students to study "at home". But how is this care expressed?

2 Nov

Tatsiana Hurynovich (Belarus)

"Nouvelle Europe"

Belarusian opposition: on the verge of marginalization?

Throughout Belarus nowadays, mass protests are organized through social media. The organizers of these protests might however never be successful. This once again confirms that the opposition in Belarus enjoys minimal support among the population.

31 Oct

Ángela Espinosa Ruiz (Spain)

Spain-Belarus. Contrast of concerns.

My name is A. E. I live in a city the name of which, as Cervantes did in his day, I shall ommit deliberately. It is irrelevant. It is located, that I will say, in the South of Spain. Yes, Spain! Flamenco dancer, toreador, paella! A holiday country amongst all the others within an inapetent Europe that is bored like a child and tired like a dying old man and learns nothing.

30 Oct

Shaun Walker (United Kingdom)

Foreign Policy

Bad Times in Belarus

MINSK, Belarus — This past Sunday, July 3, was Independence Day, as good a time as any to witness the extraordinary levels of both bizarreness and brutality that characterize Belarus, the country that everyone loves to call "Europe's last dictatorship." On the damp, overcast morning, a parade of ballistic missiles on trucks, thousands of troops in lock step, and a man dressed as a giant basketball was overseen by a 6-year-old boy in full military regalia. In the evening, over 200 people were arrested, and many of them beaten up, simply for applauding. Welcome to Minsk.

29 Oct

Artur Kacprzak (Poland)

Belarus: Economic System Afterlife – Belarusian Case

The rough-and-tumble race to Belarusian currency exchanges in Minsk, posted on YouTube in April this year, may raise a smile, but for those who follow news the unfolding events reveal a worrying picture piece by piece. Furthermore, when we take heed of the experts’ opinions, we realize that this foreign currency deficit in the local market is only a tip of the iceberg.

28 Oct

Mark Brüggemann (Germany) - Das Europamagazin

Belarus schools: language of peasants or programmers?

According to its constitution Belarus has two state languages - Belarusian and Russian. Authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly emphasised the equality of both, but nationalist Belarusians view the state policy as ‘russification’. The argument is being played out in the schools.

26 Oct

Anna Zemblicka (Latvia)

BRIGHT magazine

Violations of Human Rights in Europe’s Last Dictatorship

While politics in the Middle East is changing rapidly through the collapse of repressive regimes, people in another part of the world, a small eastern European country Belarus, are still demanding respect for their human rights.

Winners of Belarus in Focus 2011

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