BISS-Timeline №5 (May 2013)

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In May, the U.S. decided not to extend the sanctions previously imposed on Beltechexport and BelOMO, whereas the EU lifted its sanctions on the former Deputy Editor of the Presidential Administration’s publication Belarus Segodnya Anna Šadryna and two companies—Akvadiv and Sport-Pari. Apparently, the revision of the decision on sanctions against A. Šadryna and the two Belarusian businesses by the Council of the European Union had been triggered by their appeals to the Secretariat of the Council of the EU.

A landmark foreign policy event in May was a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council where the leaders of the Common Economic Space member states confirmed their willingness to deepen integration and complete the preparation of the treaty on the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union by May 2014.

At the top of the opposition’s agenda for May was the ‘Troika’ (the BPF Party, campaign “Tell the Truth!” and movement “For Freedom”)-voiced initiative to hold a ‘popular referendum’. The idea of the campaign lies in a broad communication with the Belarusians who are engaged in neither parties nor pubic life with a view to formulating questions for a referendum and subsequent collection of signatures to ultimately apply to the Central Election Commission.

In economic sphere, the May highlights were postponement of the Soyuzkali project, governmental measures to sell dead stock and Russia's intention to build additional gas storage facilities in Belarus. The Russian shareholder of OAO Sukno requested assistance from representatives of the Russian Embassy to protect its interests in connection with the hearings of the case of the allegedly illegal additional issue of OAO Sukno shares by the Supreme Economic Court.

In the social sector, the month of May saw the results of the trends that were outlined at the start of the year. The decree adopting the provisions of the housing program for 2013-2016, which introduce a tighter control of the distribution of state support in the provision of housing, came into effect. Targets for university admissions for 2013 were adopted, which, along with the recent statements by the deputy minister of education, indicate a trend towards a reduction in the availability of education, while no proposals regarding quality improvements are made. Wages keep growing; however, the tendency for tariffs to increase remains as well.

May saw a marked liberalization of the cultural landscape—some of the previously banned bands managed to hold legal concerts for the first time during the last few years; the Information Ministry registered ‘Arche. Pačatak’ magazine. The country’s performance in the Eurovision song contest traditionally became the pivotal event of the official cultural discourse. Some noteworthy festivals and art events also took place this May; the State Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater celebrated its jubilee.

The BISS Timeline is a brief monthly review of the major social, economical, political and cultural events in Belarus. It enables readers to learn new trends in the field of interest within just a few minutes.

Find May BISS-Timeline issue in PDF format below.