Panel 4

Beyond Minsk: Current civic engagement in the regions

About Panel 4

The current political crisis in Belarus has either unleashed or accelerated various developments whose present form could not have been predicted even just a few years ago. The role of women in Belarusian society is intensifying significantly and talked about in new ways. Strikes and their legitimacy and usefulness have also become an important topic.

The increased desire for civic engagement has also become a major development. Whenever the state uses its power in a way that many people feel does not fulfil its duties, or when it is used even against its citizens, an impressive number of Belarusians appear willing to become involved and act at their own initiative.

This is becoming particularly apparent in the regional areas of Belarus. Whereas earlier one would find a relatively active civil society mainly in Minsk, we now see this emerging across the entire country, from provincial capitals all the way to small towns and villages. The notion of the “decentralised” is becoming a model for a “new” Belarus – and it seems quite likely that this trend will continue to grow, even with the current protests.

This Panel will present and discuss the various forms of civic engagement in the regions, and how the current situation has generated a new understanding of this phenomenon. A very diverse array of situations will be examined: we will talk about ambitious projects for local self-governance, initiatives promoting the development of rural areas, and the new potential for mobilisation by independent unions in Belarus’ regions.

About Panel 4

The current political crisis in Belarus has either unleashed or accelerated various developments whose present form could not have been predicted even just a few years ago. The role of women in Belarusian society is intensifying significantly and talked about in new ways. Strikes and their legitimacy and usefulness have also become an important topic.

The increased desire for civic engagement has also become a major development. Whenever the state uses its power in a way that many people feel does not fulfil its duties, or when it is used even against its citizens, an impressive number of Belarusians appear willing to become involved and act at their own initiative.

This is becoming particularly apparent in the regional areas of Belarus. Whereas earlier one would find a relatively active civil society mainly in Minsk, we now see this emerging across the entire country, from provincial capitals all the way to small towns and villages. The notion of the “decentralised” is becoming a model for a “new” Belarus – and it seems quite likely that this trend will continue to grow, even with the current protests.

This Panel will present and discuss the various forms of civic engagement in the regions, and how the current situation has generated a new understanding of this phenomenon. A very diverse array of situations will be examined: we will talk about ambitious projects for local self-governance, initiatives promoting the development of rural areas, and the new potential for mobilisation by independent unions in Belarus’ regions.

Moderator
Artyom Shraibman

Artyom Shraibman

Political Analyst

Speakers
Tatsiana Karatkevich

Tatsiana Karatkevich

Co-spokes­person of the citizens’ movement “Tell the truth”

Siarhei Tarasiuk

Siarhei Tarasiuk

Director of the International Foundation for Rural Development

Volha Karach

Volha Karach

Head of “Nash Dom” International Civic Initiatives Centre

Aliaksandr Yarashuk

Aliaksandr Yarashuk

President of the Belarusian Congress Of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP)

Klara Geywitz

Klara Geywitz

Deputy Federal Chair of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)