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Politics Coronavirus CSS Blog

Europe’s Outlier: Belarus and Covid-19

Image courtesy of Benno Zogg.

This blog belongs to the CSS’ coronavirus blog series, which forms a part of the center’s analysis of the security policy implications of the coronavirus crisis. See the CSS special theme page on the coronavirus for more.

Instead of taking meaningful measures, the Belarusian government downplayed the threat of the coronavirus and suggested obscure cures. This is a dangerous bet by a regime afraid of economic downturn and appearing weak – similar to several other regimes with strongman leaders. Given Belarusians lack faith in the government’s response and official data, they are taking personal responsibility for their fate. This goes against the grain of the political culture in the country and underscores that authoritarian regimes’ habitual methods may reach their limits during such a crisis.

Categories
International Relations

Belarusian Integration

Belarusian Integration

Belarus’ importance as an independent actor in Eastern Europe is growing – a fact that is underlined by Swiss Foreign Minister Cassis’ attendance of the opening of the Swiss embassy in Minsk and meeting with Belarusian President Lukashenko on 13 February 2020. This graphic illustrates four different integration projects, of which Belarus is a member. For more on Belarus’ foreign policies and strategies, read Benno Zogg’s addition to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series ‘Belarus between East and West: The Art of the Deal‘.

Categories
Elections

The Path to Politics: Belarus Prepares for Double Elections

Image courtesy of Cencillería del Ecuador/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Carnegie Moscow Center on 20 August 2019.

Elections in Belarus are traditionally administrative rituals. However, amid growing tensions with Russia and increased discussion of a future presidential transition in Minsk, the upcoming Belarusian parliamentary and presidential votes may be the start of cautious political change in the country.
Categories
International Relations

From Belarus with Love: The Limits of Lukashenko’s Dalliance with the West

Image courtesy of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 3 April 2019.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its intervention in Eastern Ukraine demonstrated not only its unpredictability but also its willingness to violate agreements and use force to alter borders and destabilize countries in its neighborhood. These events not only shocked the West; they also shook Russia’s allies to the core, not least Belarus. Long branded as “Europe’s last dictatorship,” this Eastern European state is considered Russia’s staunchest ally. And indeed, no country is culturally closer or politically, militarily, and economically more integrated with Russia than Belarus.

Categories
International Relations Security

Crimea 2.0: Will Russia Seek Reunification with Belarus

Image courtesy of Adam Jones/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) on 19 November 2018.

While speculation about whether Russia may repeat the Crimean scenario in Belarus should not be totally dismissed, exaggerated alarmism would not be appropriate either. Rather, Moscow’s policy is aimed at making sure that Belarus and its leadership remain critically dependent on Russia.