But let’s start with some general information from Wikipedia. Actually, Belarus is a country in Eastern Europe that borders Russia to the north and east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north. Its capital is Minsk. A third of the country is forested, and agriculture and manufacturing are the strongest economic sectors of Belarus. Until the 20th century, the Belarusian nation lacked the opportunity to form national policy, as the lands of modern-day Belarus belonged to several countries, including the Duchy of Polatsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. After the failure of a short-lived Belarusian People's Republic (1918–1919), Belarus became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Belorussian SSR.
The final unification of the Belarusian lands in its modern borders took place in 1939, when the ethnically Belarusian lands that were a part of interwar Poland were annexed by the USSR and attached to the Soviet Belarus. The territory and its nation were devastated in World War II as Belarus lost about a quarter of its population and more than half of its economic resources, but the republic recovered in the post-war years and became one of the founding members of the United Nations. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence in 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has been the country's president since 1994. During his presidency, Lukashenko has implemented Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of the economy. Belarus is negotiating with Russia to unify into a single state called the Union of Russia and Belarus.
The ideology of the Belarusian state exploits leftist sentiments and nostalgia for the Soviet Union as a social state, which are still strong among large groups of the population, particularly those who are deprived and unprotected. It also serves to conceal the neoliberal character of the reforms, causing even greater economic instability for these groups.
The most important problem, however, is the present rule of the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who is quite understandably called in the remaining opposition newspapers “the last dictator of Europe”. The Golem of the political regime in Belarus is based on co-existence of state bureaucracy and business, strongly connected with organized crime and military forces. The economy of the country belongs mostly to the black market sphere, making profit from arms trade, and corrupt from top to bottom.
Belarusian state has developed a massive ideological apparatus: the education system and mass-media are used as propaganda tools. The activities of Non-governmental Organizations are prohibited. Political activists, journalists, independent scientists and politicians are treated as enemies of the regime, a great number of them are prosecuted, some have gone missing. The Belarusian Republican Union of Youth functions as the organization of the establishment to recruit new cadres for the regime and spread its propaganda. The system of higher education is controlled by the state: attendance to a course on state ideology is compoulsory. Politically active students are sent down and lectures are prosecuted by the KGB for their political views. Crossing the Belarusian border with the European Union becomes a gamble for political activists and those who are associated with the “enemies” of the regime. Non-governmental educational establishments, founded by liberal intellectual and political elites - such as the National Humanitarian Lyceum and the European Humanities University - are closed. A state-owned media corporation called Beltelecom controls Internet access across the country.
The character of the state reforms is obviously neo-liberal. They are aimed at dismantling social sphere in a slow manner by means of introducing market regulations into the education system, health care and housing. They aggravate social disparities, which will sooner or later result in a social catastrophe. For instance, from September 2007 all the state benefits to such groups, as elderly, disabled people, immigrants, students and victims of the Chernobyl disaster, were cancelled by a presidential decree. All these groups, which together constitute the majority of the Belarusian society are left without any stable means of survival. This cancellation was the most shocking political step by Lukashenko’s regime, which crowns a long chain of measures, such as cancellation of state benefits to the victims of the Chernobyl disaster as well as the revision of the consequences of this tragedy, higher education reform, which has lead to its complete commercialisation, and introduction of market regulations into housing sector, public utilities and health care. The belarusian neo-liberal opposition proposes the same package of reforms, as the ones that are currently implemented by Lukashenko’s regime. This is one of the possible reasons for its failure. During its long history the Belarusian people have been used in the political games of the major powers and their political elites. Nevertheless, hopes for the independence are still present. Should it materialize, the driving force of social revolution in Belarus is generated by individuals, grassroots groups and activists, who took part in the protests against the obvious vote-rigging at the last presidential elections in the early spring of 2006. It was a promising historical moment, when people’s discontent with Lukashenko’s regime, which established rigid hierarchy over the all groups of society, coincided with a wide disappointment with the weakness of neoliberal opposition. The power used all available resources to propagandize the current president and to create a collective image of the “enemy”. Instead of reaching the targets this propaganda provoked people’s indignation. Neoliberal opposition, providing the ambitious political agenda of the economic elites, binded with the western capital, didn’t succeed in accumulation and expressing of the interests of the major groups of population. The attempt of the social revolution failed than, but some transformations in the society became evident after March 2006. The fear disappeared and was displaced with indignation at injustice and the feeling of dignity.
Popular discontent, social conflicts for a more just and equal distribution of economic wealth and social goods, as well as mass flow of emigration in search for better living conditions abroad results from the politicies of the current political regime which betrays people’s confidence.
Acting as a propaganda machine for the state ideology, the state-owned newspapers censure the policies of major powers, corporations and neo-liberal institutions in the state newspapers. At the same time the regime cooperates with IMF, World Bank and multinational corporations. For instance, the great role, played by such institutions as the European Union and the International Organisation for Migration in the formation of the Belarusian migration policy illustrates the overall dependence of the country on the general logics of neoliberal globalization. Belarus is situated at the crossroads of the flows of goods, labor force and capital from Russia and Asian region to Europe and vice versa. Its common border with the EU offers a convenient place for temporary settlement to the migrants on their long way to Europe. The wastelands, contaminated by radiation in the result of the Chernobyl disaster are at stake in the interactions between the regime and such institutions, such as the World Bank, IMF and international nuclear corporation. The latter support the revision of these wastelands’ status as unsuitable for settlement and agriculture, and provide loans for their exploitation. In a country which suffered from radioactive contamination, the potential risks of a project of building a nuclear power plant are not being discussed anymore. It's a question of when, not if.
Tolerant attitude towards foreigners, attributed to the multi-ethic nature of the Belarusian society as well as long traditions of multi-culturalism presents an obstacle for the political forces seeking national unity and completion of the nation-building project, which exploits the image of an alien/enemy. The country is currently facing an outburst of neo-fascism among the groups of lumpen youth, a trend that is nurtured to a great extent by the state propaganda: ethnic minorities, homosexuals and people with alternative views to the sole ideological standard for political and religious believes are bullied and treated as enemies. Gay-pride parades, as well as celebrations, held by the Friends of Hare Krishna movement are being harassed by the police. Schools with teaching in Belarusian are closed, as well as those for children of the Polish and the Roma people.
Current conditions of migrants from and to Belarus are primarily determined primarily by the forces of globalization - a global transfer of capital, labor force and goods, and by the neo-liberal reforms which are designed to define its order and direction. Political powers operating in Belarus are interested in maintaining the subaltern status of the large groups of the country’s population, which ensures their exploitation.
The decay of the Belarusian language and culture results from the longstanding politically and culturally dependent position of the country, which determined to a large extent the formation of the social classes as well as the Belarusian nation. Taken into consideration within the context of colonialism, this situation could not be explained solely in the terms of a tragedy of the Belarusian people. In fact, it demonstrates the specifics of formation of the elites in the dependant country.
The current political situation in Belarus should be investigated within the context of the realities of neo-liberalism as their consequences, and resemble to a great extent the situation in the countries of so-called Global South. Actually, despite its location in the centre of Europe, Belarus nowadays belongs to the Global South on the global map. This Global South is currently divided according to the interests of transnational corporations, neo-liberal institutions, - such as the IMF and the World Bank, and local dictatorships, that are backed by them. The struggle of the Belarusian people against authoritarism and neoliberal reforms is a part of the global struggle for freedom and equality and could become successful only with international support and solidarity.