Reinforcing the Role of Civil Society as a Watchdog of Democratic Principles in Belarus


The International High-Level Conference on Belarus took place (online) on 22 November 2021. The IDM in cooperation with GLOBSEC and Office of Sviatlana Tsihanouskaya organised a side-event on that occasion. B

elarus has undergone profound political changes in the past year. More than a year ago, the streets of Belarus were teaming with people protesting stolen presidential elections and asserting their voices matter. To stifle these voices, the government unleashed a war on civil society. The Belarusian government have arrested thousands of demonstrators and continues with repression against civil society, non-governmental organizations, and the independent media. With Belarus at a democratic crossroads, the international community needs to stand in solidarity with them, counter the government’s attempts to eviscerate civil society, provide unwavering, long-term support to Belarusian groups and activists.

Our experts:

– Pavol Demeš (German Marshall Fund of the United States)

– Mark A. Dietzen (International Republican Institute Vilnius, Lithuania)

– Vytis Jurkonis (Freedom House) – Aliaksandra Lohvinava (Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya)

– Renata Mieńkowska-Norkiene (University of Warsaw)

– Andrei Stryzhak (BySol – Belarus Solidarity Foundation)

discussed the following questions:

– How can civil society organizations operate in the current mode?

– What method should be used for clear formulation of the policy priorities for the transition period in the country and future reform agenda?

– How to broaden the networks and advocacy channels available to Belarusian democratic civil society in Western democratic countries?

– How to enhance skills of Belarusian analysts to deliver impactful analysis and advocate for the implementation of their recommendations?

– What role can Western institutions play in helping Belarusian civil society to ensure a positive democratic change?


Moderation: Sebastian Schäffer (Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe – IDM)

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On Sunday, May 23 the Lukashenka regime forced a civil plane to land in Minsk due to an alleged bomb threat. Authorities arrested the Belarusian activist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend for alleged involvement in terrorism and incitement of public disorder as he was covering the opposition protests following Lukashenka’s rigged election in August 2020. EU ministers imposed further targeted sanctions and restricted air traffic over Belarus. Lisa Behrens (IDM) comments on the recent events and on the questions we as Europeans should ask ourselves concerning the situation in Belarus.

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