Have we already mentioned how long and eventful 2018 was in Belarus? Let’s take a look at all the highs and lows of the past 12 months that challenged us, amazed us and made this year so important and unique.
2018’s biggest moments … and ahead to 2019!
100 years of the BNR
A holiday of the year
Freedom Day that could have caused clashes between the opposition and the riot police but turned into the major cultural and political event of the year instead.
Authorities allowed a rally-concert that brought together thousands of people who came to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR).
Belarus keeps opening to the world. The five-day visa-free regime, which was introduced in 2017, was a success – the tourist flow to the country grew by 20%. This year the visa-free stay was extended six times to up to 30 days.
Shortly afterward Belarus-China visa-free mutual agreement came in force. All that remains is to abolish outdated rules on compulsory registration of foreigners, agree on a simplified visa regime with the EU and sign an agreement on the recognition of visas with Moscow.
A slagging of the year
The outgoing year was one of the most shocking for the defenders of the state monopoly on the truth. Blocking of the popular opposition website Charter ’97, a wave of fines for journalists, penalties for reposting in social networks.
The climax of the fight against non-state media was the BelTA case. 15 defendants, searches, seized equipment, condemnation from the West and world media. Maryna Zolatava, the chief editor of Belarusian portal TUT.BY, remains the only defendant.
Conflict with Russia
A maneuver of the year
Disputes with Moscow seem traditional for Belarus but this year is special. Due to a tax maneuver in Russia, Belarus has already lost almost $3.5 billion. By 2024 the losses may reach up to $10.8 billion.
The Russian side expressed its readiness to provide the local oil refineries with a subsidy provided closer integration – the creation of a single tax, customs, monetary, excise, and economic policy.
Despite a series of meetings between two sides, the question remains open.
Olympic gold biathlon relay
Gold of the year
Belarus’ female biathlon team became the main sensation of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.
Nadezhda Scardino, Irina Krivko, Dinara Alimbekova and Darya Domracheva overcame bad weather conditions and spectacularly won the relay race. At the end of the season, Domracheva and Scardino announced their retirement.
The dilemma of the year
Minsk banned night-time sales of alcohol at all-night kiosks and stores
The ban that lasted less than 24 hours was described as ill-considered. The outcome of a large-scale presidential meeting is to strengthen the government’s monopoly and push out its only competition – private business.
Parasite tax law 2.0
Modernization of the year
Decree No3, popularly known as the ‘law against social parasites’, was abolished. Now it is interpreted as an ordinance to stipulate population employment assistance measures.
Able-bodied unemployed citizens will have to pay the full cost of the services subsidized by the state starting 1 January 2019. Obviously, this year the matter will remain relevant.
Those in the base of ‘parasites’ (so far about 500,000 people have been included)will receive new bills, resent and go to prove their usefulness to the economy. However, the ability of the latter to create decent jobs is questionable.
Round the world
The dream of the year
On 18 August, Alexander Tsenter and Andrey Borisevich went on a round-the-world flight in a lightweight screw-propelled aircraft Cessna 182T.
The daredevils spent in the air over 120 hours and covered almost 28,000 kilometers, including at least 40 stops in 10 countries on the way. Check out the breathtaking views and landscapes that brought the project the title of the most beautiful project of the year.