Parker adds, “Communist and socialist governments the world over have always had literacy and education programmes as core principles. Lukashenka has much more in common with Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Asian despots  than with Fidel Castro or leftist Latin American rulers. The same flag was also flown by Belarusian counterrevolutionaries during the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. While the Belarusian authorities are talking about the prospects of sex tourism, the inflow of foreign tourists in general remains low. In the majority of cases (85 per cent) Belarusians themselves use them for holding weddings or other celebrations. Nothing but the holding of free and fair elections in Belarus is acceptable. This is in stark contrast to the decline in public service spending in the other former Soviet republics. According to Parker, “Lukashenko’s positive opinion of the USSR, as well as the preservation of Soviet national holidays and a rejection of nationalism, have all found favor with the older generation.”. It lies on the crossroads of major international roots from Germany and Poland to Russia and from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea. The trade unions are far from being independent or influential. Despite frequent declarations, the government have failed to create even basic tourist infrastructure in Belarus. Yet, there was not a single serious ideological project undertaken by the Belarusian government abroad. Perhaps Belarus is not capitalist, but it is certainly not socialist. If you thought this page is useful to your friend, use this form to send. in six languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani). Perhaps the only sort of incoming tourism from western countries that is developping in Belarus despite any difficulties is sex tourism. But the combination of a disintegrating welfare system, dismantled state-run services, a five-year wage freeze and skyrocketing prices were too much for them to stand. Some write about socialism in Belarus, and others call Lukashenka “a spontaneous socialist” or even a social democrat. Without a socialist alternative emerging from the mass movement the country risks becoming a pawn in the struggles between the larger economic powers. Socialism requires workers power, and there is no such thing in Belarus. The author dedicates this article to the memory of Workers World Party founder Rosemary Neidenberg (1921-2020), who requested that he analyze U.S. imperialism’s threat to Belarus. At the time, Lukashenko warned the people of Belarus about such a movement developing there. The same applies to the profits. Formerly known as Byelorussia or Belorussia, its prehistory essentially begins in the seventh millennium BC with the Dnieper-Donets culture and a series of successors. At the same time there are very few low-cost hostels anywherein the country (only in Minsk and Brest). Another Achilles heel of the Belarusian tourist industry is the “visa wall”. The ruling elite inherited its power from the Soviet state and did not have to struggle for it. Belarusian Social Democrat Anatol Sidarevic pointed out that “Lukashenka with his rhetoric has been and, may be still, considered almost a Socialist.” Belarusian journalists and activists express similar views. And from time to time the police crackdown on networks of the sex business. Have Belarusians Always Used the Cyrillic Alphabet? We recommend that subscribers with internet access get our free email subscription and share our articles with your contacts and on social media. The people have some legitimate grievances against Lukashenko, especially regarding his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. No, but that doesn’t mean it is not a victim of western imperialism, both right now as we speak and since the dissolution of the USSR. And even these students will have to work for two years for very small wages to compensate for their "free education". In addition, Belarus continues many socialist policies from the days of the Soviet Union. Please use the respective subcategories, if existing. It is extremely hard to identify an ideological affiliation of the Belarusian ruler. Belarus’s government has its contradictions. To benefit from this event the government should liberalise the tourist industry and free creativity of entrepreneurs from bureaucratic bondage. The government ignores most of the ILO's recommendations. Cimmerians and other pastoralists roamed through the area by 1,000 BC, and by 500 AD, Slavs had taken up residence, which was circumscribed by the Scythians who roamed its outskirts. Unlike the other former Soviet republics, Belarus preserved socialist symbols and statues throughout the country. … Few Belarusian pensioners will have the luxury cars or the latest computers, but they will be able to afford food, fuel and the essentials that allow them to enjoy a peaceful retirement. However, the industry thrives. This high-profile event can boost the country’s tourist industry, as the authorities promise visa-free travel for all Westerners. Classic editor History Talk (0) Socialism : This category collects individuals, organizations, publications, events and other topics that are relevant to Socialism in Belarus. Yet it is still improbable, since such a step will lead to radical changes in the economic model of the regime. From 5000 to 2000 BC, Bandkeramik cultures predominated. And a German national €60. Some independent trade unions exist but they are marginalised. As of this writing, the opposition’s future is still hazy. The Belarusian government declared many times its plans to privatise state-owned enterprises. Read in Russian As Marxists, we understand that the political crisis that is now unfolding in Belarus is not caused by an accidental coincidence of circumstances or the intrigues of certain foreign states. We are pleased to announce that we have resumed printing and mailing on a monthly basis, for now. Print subscriptions will still be extended in consideration of the temporary suspension of printing and the currently more limited print schedule. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on his reelection Aug. 9. Moreover, the very fact that some services are still free does not make a country a socialist – otherwise most EU countries would be socialist. As a result, in 2011 1576 so-called agro-manors stood ready to accommodate agro-tourists. Belarus is the legal successor of the Byelorussian SSR and in its Constitution it states, "Laws, decrees and other acts which were applied in the territory of the Republic of Belarus prior to the entry into force of the present Constitution shall apply in the particular parts thereof that are not contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus." In the book “The Last Soviet Republic: Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus,” author Stewart Parker argues that Lukashenko’s mass popularity and electoral success derive from his tight connection with the former Soviet Union. Only 20 per cent of tourists (about 150,000) came from the rest of the world in 2011. It has always needed to simply preserve the existing order. Now Belarusian workers and youth need a socialist alternative to organise opposition. These are crucial days for the Belarusian working class in getting rid of the rule of a dictator and of the oligarchs who have acquired state industries to accumulate profit for themselves. Moreover, on 31 May the government amended the national visa rules. Despite the capitalist counterrevolution in 1991, Belarus was able to restore some of the socialist programs of the Soviet era. Verbatim copying and distribution of articles is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Many Russians come to Belarus to use its growing gambling industry. China is run by a Communist Party but describes itself as socialist, while the employer/employee structure of its enterprises is capitalist. Later, the ILO repeatedly defined Belarus as a grave violator of trade unions' rights, but to no avail. In 2003, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched an investigation into the complaint of Belarusian independent trade unions concerning violations of their rights by the government. Belarusian life expectancy is higher than in all former Soviet states with the exception of Georgia.”, Imperialist threats to sovereignty and stability. But in fact the Soviet-looking facade of the Belarusian regime is deceptive. We examine what this means for (a) its place in the world economy, (b) its place in the transition from capitalism to socialism/communism and (c) its conflict with the US. The Belarusian regime is a self-interested opportunistic authoritarianism which has no stable ideological preferences. For that reason, it is pointless to talk about any kind of Socialism or even a left-wing ideology of the Belarusian regime. There are some real signs which make the Belarusian regime look socialist. The ideology-free elite wishes to preserve its power without embarking on high-minded idealistic abstractions. Much like Russia, Belarus is a repressive state that makes a mockery of even liberal democracy, keeping some Soviet trappings and customs while abandoning the USSR's egalitarianism. I wanted to see past the Socialist Modernism of Minsk, the hammers and sickles, the Brutalist towers, and get a glimpse of the Real Belarus. An interview with Dmitry Kosmachev, a member of the Minsk Socialist Circle, about the situation in Belarus, the current protests, and where they may lead. Many of them believe that the Belarusian regime shares their ideology. But it is definitely becoming a sizeable business. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Workers World suspended printing and mailing of the newspaper on March 19. Just business. Fight back with workers’ power, Declaración del Workers World Party/Partido Mundo Obrero. What are socialist perspectives on Belarus? Parker points out that the first thing Lukashenko did upon election was double the minimum wage. This system demonstrates merely that the regime only avoids the reforms to maintain control, not that Lukashenka is bringing the nation to socialism. Inception. The Belarusian economy equals state. The only political party that Lukashenko ever belonged to was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Although education is nominally free, in fact only a minority of all students do not have to pay for their studies. Some delegates were denied entry to Belarus although the party has frequently taken a moderate position on the European Parliament's resolutions on Belarus. belarus socialism. For socialism and genuine democracy! Strategic position Internet images have shown many of the demonstrators waving the anti-Communist red and white flag used by the Byelorussian Central Council, which collaborated with German Nazi occupiers from 1943 until 1944. Only two of them have 5 stars (hotels Europe and Crowne Plaza in Minsk) and three  have 4 stars (hotels Minsk and Victoria in Minsk and hotel Luchesa in Vitebsk). That said, Belarus has a very mixed economy. For example, there are only 34 hotels in the whole country that are certified according to international standards. The people have some legitimate grievances against Lukashenko, especially regarding his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They further complicated the visa procedure. He is known for contradictory statements such as "market socialism" and these do not help to understand much about the ideological underpinnings of the regime. USSR-era socialist art in Minsk, Belarus, in February 2019. Subscribers should have received a printed paper in September and October. In 2014 Belarus will host the ice hockey World Championship. Yauheni Preiherman is Policy Director of the Discussion and Analytical Society Liberal Club in Minsk. Eastern Europe Belarus / Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic The history of Belarus is tied closely to that of Lithuania and Poland. Lukashenko’s main electoral opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who polled around 10% of the vote compared to Lukashenko’s 80%, refused to accept the election outcome. In 2014 Belarus will host the World Ice Hockey Championship. This location makes it a potentially convenient destination for tourists from neighbouring and far-away countries. They exist only as dispensers of welfare as in Soviet times. In addition, remains from the Dnieper-Donets culture were found in Belarus and parts of Ukraine. A UK national will have to pay 75 pounds for the same type of Belarusian visa. One of them was the development of agro-ecotourism. Stephen Shenfield: In the 1990s I made visits to five of the new post-Soviet republics – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan. Belarusian Social Democrat Anatol Sidarevic pointed out that “Lukashenka with his rhetoric has been and, may be still, considered almost a Socialist.” Belarusian journalists and activists express similar views. September 25, 2020 by . Lukashenko’s reelection was the sixth one since 1994, when he also won 80% of the popular vote. Only 15 per cent of visitors of all the agro-manors in 2011 were from abroad. News portal Naviny.by recently noticed that the share of the state sector in total industrial output in 2011 made up more than 70 per cent of Belarus' total output. Edit. Despite the economic collapse brought about by the counter-revolution of the 1990s, Belarus avoided the fate of many other former socialist states by retaining state-run industry and the social safety net. U.S. imperialist and fascist hands off Belarus! In 1941 it became the flag of the Nazi occupation administration, and it appeared on arm patches of Belarusian volunteers in the German Army and Waffen SS. Tourism is a regular issue on the government’s agenda. Tikhanovskaya’s spouse, Sergei Tikhanovsky, initially intended to run against Lukashenko, but he was disqualified and arrested for participating in illegal, anti-government activities. Their president has been in power for more than 25 years, ever since the Soviet Union fell, and his prior job was managing a socialist collective farm. Previously, all foreigners could get visas upon arrival at Minsk-2 airport. The Belarusian democracy movement erupted after Lukashenko claimed 80 percent of the vote over 10 percent for Tichanovskaya. The winning design was a hammer and sickle on top of a globe in rays of the sun, surrounded by a wreath of grain and under a five-pointed star, with the inscription "proletarians of the world, unite!" Now, almost all Belarusians work on short-term contracts – often concluded over a very short term. Visa regimes considerably complicate both incoming and outgoing tourism. A 1999 presidential decree effectively made much of the Labour Code a dead letter and launched a massive compulsory introduction of temporary contracts to strengthen authoritarian consolidation in the country. The Belarusian parliament had already passed the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic on 27 July 1990, with Stalinist hardliner Lukashenko the only MP to vote against independence. A special commission confirmed these violations of workers' rights. Lukashenka's Regime: Neither Left, Nor Right, and Nor Centre. For example, a single entry short-stay visa for an American citizen costs $160. Seriously fanatical communists or hard-core adepts of socialist ideology find themselves in unimportant positions. Everyone who has money and wishes for some sexual entertainment knows where to look for it. Although another presidential decree allowed the employee to get a permanent contract after five years of work, the general picture remains very sad for employees. In the past, the European Left has also expressed solidarity with the Belarusian government on a national level in some European countries and in Germany. The European Myth of Belarusian Socialism. By Otis Grotewohl posted on August 17, 2020. Moreover, the Russians, unlike Westerners, have no language problems in Belarus, where the majority of the population speak Russian as their first language. This transforms the country into a kind of sweatshop, common in the developing world with cheap and docile labour force, minimal regulations and full freedom of action for employers. “Maternity leave in Belarus is also extended to those who adopt babies. Several years ago Alexander Lukashenka demanded that Belarus should become a popular destination for tourists from around the world who would bring in lots of hard currency. Otherwise Belarus will largely remain a sex sanctuary for westerners and a gambling destination for Russians. For example, even the nominally high-ranked Anatol Rubinau only heads the Council of the Republic, which serves no serious function in the state other than being a social club for officials. Rob Jones, Sotsialisticheskaya Alternativa (ISA in Russia) At the time of writing, protests in Belarus against the obvious falsification of the results of Sunday’s Presidential election seem to be spreading, and are meeting with increasing repression. 100 Years Later: Some Lessons of the Great Bolshevik Revolution, Fascist violence and the form of the state, No fascist coup! Sex tourism in Belarus is, of course, not as flourishing as in Ukraine. While Belarus still maintains features from its socialist history as part of the Soviet Union, it lost other socialist features during and after the USSR’s collapse. https://belarusdigest.com/story/cartoon-fields/. Category page. But without proper deregulation of this sector of the economy the boost will not be sustainable and nothing but sex industry will remain the country's tourist brand. Stephen Shenfield: In the 1990s I made visits to five of the new post-Soviet republics – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan. This year, the ILO put Belarus on the “long” and “short” list of states violating rights of trade unions. The Soviet conservatism has its best reflection in the share of state ownership in Belarus. Interestingly, nationals of only 19 states can enter Belarus without visas (however, there are specific regulations for each state). in World — by Stephen Shenfield — November 15, 2020 An interview conducted by Stephen Shenfield of the World Socialist Party of the United States with Dmitry Kosmachev, a … If the authorities really want to turn Belarus into a popular tourist destination the latest visa amendments look utterly strange. They do not want to pay for expensive visas only to find the lack of appropriate tourist infrastructure. Taking advantage of these grievances, Washington and the Belarus opposition use problems caused by the pandemic as a pretext against Belarus’s sovereignty — despite the U.S. government’s own mishandling of the pandemic crisis. The Socialist International calls on its members around the world to demand the immediate release of Mikalai Statkevich and others jailed these past days. 10 member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (excluding Turkmenistan). In fact, opportunism is the only suitable term to denote the current Belarusian system. Although the ruling elite is not homogenous, disagreements between various factions inside the ruling regime usually do not happen along ideological lines. Belarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime. Furthermore, there are almost no signs in English, even in the capital – all are in Cyrillic alphabet which most Westerners cannot read. The Bolsheviks created a puppet Soviet government of Belarus in Smolensk. Is inequality a serious problem in Belarus? Only the volume of help provided has changed. Some write about socialism in Belarus, and others call Lukashenka “a spontaneous socialist” or even a social democrat. A revolutionary socialist transformation in Belarus could indeed be a spark for spontaneous movements across the globe to forge parties with socialist programmes and leadership and link up internationally. Her supporters and other opponents of the government from various centrist and right-wing parties, poured into the streets to denounce Lukashenko. They provided tax and other incentives for those entrepreneurs who wanted to invest in agro-ecotourism. No one can be certain of job security. Socialism in Belarus. But if [a foreign tourist] has an interest, let him look for it, meet girls and marry". State-owned enterprises and enterprises partly owned by the government employed c. 1.75 million people, i.e. These are both a threat to Belarus’s workers. No doubt, it will give a boost to the tourist industry. The command of foreign languages among employees of Belarusian hotels, resorts, agro-manors and transport (railway and coach) companies remains very poor. Similarly, more and more services in hospitals are no longer free. Yet hard facts speak for themselves. The government may dictate any labour conditions it wishes. None of the regime's key figures, such as Uladzimir Makey or Mikhail Myasnikovich, display any socialist sentiments. Washington’s policies aim at instability in Belarus. The people of Belarus have long been daunted due to brutal retaliation by the state. Since the mid-1990s, U.S. imperialism has targeted the Belarus government, which has had cordial relations with other anti-imperialist governments, such as Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Of course, not all of them were profitable. At first glance, Belarus may appear to be a Communist state thanks to its overt fondness of the Soviet Union and its soviet-red tinged state flag. And it is not surprising, therefore, that even officials have started talking about this business in public, like a deputy Minister of Sports and Tourism did on state television a week ago. All education is free, including higher education. These states are the following: For the rest of the world Belarusian visas are quite costly. U.S. imperialism and the Western bourgeois media, however, wasted no time in denouncing Lukashenko’s victory as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used saber-rattling language against Belarus by claiming the election was not “free and fair.” (Reuters, Aug. 10). According to the Belarusian Statistics Committee, in 2011 the highest numbers of western tourists were from Turkey, Lithuania, New Zealand and Poland. Belarus mostly attracts Russian citizens who come to rest at health resorts or gamble in casinos. 50.8 per cent of all personnel of Belarusian enterprises except for those employed by small business. You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter, https://belarusdigest.com/story/the-european-myth-of-belarusian-socialism/. With no significant strikes or other forms of industrial action, Belarus may be a paradise for any investor shrewd enough to cut a deal with Lukashenka. Protesters in Mogilev, east Belarus, last week (Pic: Wikimedia/Creative Commons) Belarusian president Aleksander Lukashenko launched a fresh crackdown on … In practise, however, the country has little to do with the far-left ideology. Mostly though I would have these icy streets to myself; and when I did get into conversations, many of the people I spoke with turned out to be Russian tourists, migrants or retirees. This is not surprising, since Belarus has an open border with its eastern neighbour and even no passport control. In 2014 a NATO-sponsored coup succeeded in overthrowing Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. The short list includes 25 states which violate the rights in the most grave and systematic manner and Belarus has belonged to this group for almost a decade. Anti-imperialists and revolutionaries inside the U.S. must oppose any U.S. involvement in other countries’ affairs. But they exist as remnants of Soviet times and are gradually being dismantled as the government gradually cuts costs. Their president has been in power for more than 25 years, ever since the Soviet Union fell, and his prior job was managing a socialist collective farm. According to some insider sources, special sex tours to Belarus are regularly organised from certain Western European states and Turkey. Tikanovskaya became the main opposition candidate after his arrest. Last weekend, the Party of the European Left held a conference in Minsk. After the Russian authorities outlawed casinos across almost the whole country, Belarus was quick to offer its service. Corporate media reports that Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania on Aug 11. Are Belarusians fundamentally rural Orthodox Christians? "We do not cultivate the idea of sex tourism in Belarus. More than 100,000 … In Belarus, 70% of workers are employed by the state, according to The Heritage Foundation’s 2020 Index of Economic Freedom. Copyright © 2020 Workers World. In 1924, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus joined the USSR together with Soviet-controlled Russia, Ukraine and Transcaucasia. It was more expensive than receiving visas at Belarusian consulates abroad, but it saved lots of time. This is how the deputy Minister of Sports and Tourism Cheslau Shulha recently answered a question about the growing sex industry in Belarus on a state TV channel. This makes the Belarus opposition similar to the pro-capitalist protesters in Hong Kong, which U.S. imperialist politicians and Western white supremacists embrace. The health, education and welfare systems are probably the most positive aspects of the Belarusian state. The authorities were hoping that Belarusian villages, with their rural traditions and beautiful nature, would appeal to hundreds of thousands of foreigners who prefer quiet rest to city sightseeing. state trade unions are already massively leaving. Western tourists are still very rare. Bad infrastructure and visa routine do not stop sex visitors. According to statistics published by the state-controlled trade union FPB two years ago, 35 per cent of contracts were established for 3-5 years, 31 per cent – for 1-3 years and 30 per cent – for one year. While Belarus still maintains features from its socialist history as part of the Soviet Union, it lost other socialist features during and after the USSR’s collapse. However, the statistics show that the country receives miserable numbers of visitors. But the data of the Belarusian Statistics Committee show that this project is not as successful as the authorities had expected. Today, Ukrainian fascists are openly lending their support to the Belarusian opposition movement. What is clear, however, is that Lukashenko’s opposition welcomes support from the pro-fascist Maidan movement in Ukraine and from U.S. imperialism. Ukraine’s Maidan movement encourages a pro-fascist coup. The workers must take control of the urgently-needed resources, which are created by their own labor, as part of an international struggle to take power and build socialism. Their absolute numbers were very small, varying between 2,000 and 3,000. Belarus has the least employee-friendly employment system in Europe, which strips workers of any protection in their relations with employers. In 1917, Vladimir Lenin and Anatoly Lunacharsky held a competition to create a Soviet emblem. This is the music of the future, but, hopefully, the not-too-distant future. They play almost no social or labour protection role. According to the director of the tourist company BelarusTurService Hennadzi Leushyn, about 80 per cent of tourists come from Russia. In 2011, state-owned enterprises earned almost two-thirds of the profits. In autumn of 1919, Nikolai Yudenich's advance on Petrograd was checked, whilst in the far north the Evgeny Miller's army was pushed into the Arctic. This kind of service is available for tourists in most hotels as well as in a number of special clubs. To put it in a comparative perspective, the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius — a relatively small city with the population of 540,000 — alone annually attracts more than 1.5 million tourists. The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic exists as a government in exile since then. Belarus’s government has its contradictions. Belarus boasts a favourable geographical location. Invaders from Asia, among whom were the Huns and Avars, swept through c. 400–600 AD, but were unable to dislodge the Slavic presence. Belarus has continued in this tradition. Officially, Belarusian legislation prohibits prostitution. Even fewer come from western countries. Because of the uncontrolled border with Russia it is difficult to assess the exact number of tourists that come to Belarus, but the estimate for 2011 is around 750,000. After that his ministers began to implement various state projects to boost the attractiveness of Belarus for incoming tourists. In Belarus, 70% of workers are employed by the state, according to The Heritage Foundation’s 2020 Index of Economic Freedom. Belarus has been able to stall a lot of privatization that completely dissolved what socialist mode of production did exist in the late USSR. Unlike the other former Soviet Republics, Belarus displays symbolism of the former Soviet Union (USSR). We have continued publishing articles on workers.org, along with a weekly PDF of what would have been the printed version. 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Soviet era world suspended printing and mailing on a monthly basis, for now have some grievances! 150,000 ) came from the days of the Soviet socialist Republic the of! Such as Uladzimir Makey or Mikhail Myasnikovich, display any socialist sentiments of visitors of personnel! Is extremely hard to identify an ideological affiliation of the Belarusian regime look socialist hotels as well in... Free and fair elections in Belarus websites often do not have to work for two years very... Violator of trade unions ' rights, but it is certainly not socialist many of them were profitable accommodate... Enterprises and enterprises partly owned by the state them believe that the ’. 31 may the government may dictate any labour conditions it wishes there was not a is belarus socialist ideological! For two years for very small wages to compensate for their `` free education '' Russian authorities outlawed across! Were from abroad access get our free email subscription and share our articles with your contacts and on media! Grave violator of trade unions than with Fidel Castro or leftist Latin rulers! Washington ’ s workers Soviet times and are gradually being dismantled as the government gradually cuts costs the Belarus similar. Subscribers with internet access get our free email subscription and share our with... Frequent declarations, the Party of the Belarusian ruler to Lithuania on Aug 11 subscribers... Another Achilles heel of the world Belarusian visas are quite costly if the authorities had.! Work on short-term contracts – often concluded over a very mixed economy these violations of '... Rest at health resorts or gamble in casinos absolute numbers were very small, between...