The past year is the year of debriefing, the year of reflection on the future. What to do with the transfer of power? How deep is to integrate with Russia? What to do with a vulnerable and sluggishly growing economy?
The year of poor oil and national pride, wonderful achievements and horrendous tragedies, bright victories and big scandals.
Depth of the year: integration
Integration negotiations with Belarus’s big neighbour and main trading partner continue all year. The bottom line: more than a dozen meetings between Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin, the titanic work of working groups, 28 of the 31 “roadmaps” that have been agreed.
However, signing of the roadmaps for the 20th anniversary of the Union State on December 8th failed. All integration documents are labelled “for official use”, so it is difficult to evaluate content. While the rhetoric of the parties shows that even if the technical positions come closer, each side has its own concept of integration.
The few, but regular rallies against integration agitates Minsk make Lukashenko refute all deep integration insinuations. It is already obvious that Belarus should not wait for any bonuses from Russia. The next year gives us time and space to decide whether we are to go deeper or accelerate divorce.
Project of the year: constitutional amendments
The main expected novelty is the reduction of the powers of the president and the strengthening of other branches of government.
The main intrigue is what format of the transfer of power the current president of Belarus will choose for himself and whether it will be announced in the agreed time-frame – until 2023.
Symbol of the year: the city and its gorodovoi
A series of scandals at the beginning of the year around the city monument near the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs claims to win the “Absurdity of the Year” nomination.
The misadventures of the 18-year-old student who spent two days in a detention centre due to a harmless misunderstanding – he slapped the sculpture of a policeman in the ‘face’.
Oppositionists and even tourists who know nothing about weird Belarus’ reality face the same punishment. Despite the statue is not considered to have major architectural or historical value, officers consider it a ‘sacred place’.
At some point, the detentions stopped. Some link it with the resignation of Interior Minister Igor Shunevich, known for intolerance to all kinds of vices and harsh moralizing. He will be remembered for his controversial remarks on the LGBT, dry law and apologies to the statue of a policeman and many others.
Nonsense of the year: II European Games
The II European Games were held in Belarus at the end of June. The farther from the epic ceremonies and activities in the fan zones, the more obvious was the incompleteness of the very idea of the games. And the dubious expediency of the budget spent – the organizers estimated it at BYN 540 million or about $255,000,000.
Summary: in comparison with the past games in Baku, Minsk succeed – it spent four times less. Unfortunately, contracts with European companies didn’t cover the costs. Consolation-wise, Belarus got second place in the medal round and gained experience in international sports competitions.
Miracle of the year: lost and found girl
A woman whose father lost her on a train as a four-year-old has been reunited with her parents two decades later. Yulia Gorina, 24, was raised by adoptive parents after she mysteriously managed to cross from Belarus into Russia, and her real family could not be traced.
Twenty years later she found her parents after her new boyfriend Ilya Kryukov, 31, did a simple internet search. The heartwarming story tells how Yulia was reunited with her mother and the father who lost her when he dozed off to sleep on a 60-mile train journey from Minsk to Asipovichy.
Rehearsal of the year: parliamentary elections
The parliamentary elections held in November could have pretended to many nominations, or remain outside the list of significant events of the year due to the obviousness of the result.
For example, the EU called them a “lost opportunity”, noting a general disregard for the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression.
All the parliament’s 110 seats were won by ex-government functionaries, diplomats and pro-government officials. Not a single opposition candidate was elected.
Tragedy of the year: the emergency during the fireworks
Independence Day festivities took a tragic turn after at least two blasts rocked the city amid a fireworks display, shattering windows in nearby buildings. A 64-year-old woman was killed after fireworks exploded low above the ground.
She was reportedly watching fireworks on the banks of the Svisloch river when a metal chip from a broken fireworks machine hit her in the neck. The unnamed woman was treated by paramedics at the spot for half an hour, but with no success, she succumbed to her injuries.
The Investigative Committee started a criminal case on violation of the rules for handling substances and objects which represent an increased danger for nearby persons and later detained several suspects.
Bribe of the year: the ex-head of the security service of Lukashenko
In April, law enforcement agencies detained Andrei Vtyurin, the Deputy State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus and the former head of the security service of Alexander Lukashenko.
“Vtyurin was detained red-handed while receiving $148,600 from a representative of the Russian commercial structure “G” for assisting in promoting its interests in Belarus,” KGB said in a statement on 4 May.
Numerous facts of receiving and giving bribes during the supply of telecommunications equipment, computer hardware and software were revealed.
In total, over 1.650 million dollars, 62 thousand euros, more than 1 kg of gold were seized from bribe takers alone. Andrei Vtyurin was accused of receiving 190 thousand dollars bribes.
Number of the year: 25 years together
Almost 25 years ago, the Belarusians chose their first and so far the only president. The quarter of the Century is a series of texts telling what and how Alexander Lukashenko changed in our country.
TUT.BY analyzed the president’s work in various spheres – from macroeconomics and people’s well-being to the development of sports and regions. BelarusFeed looked into the very notorious “regime” or system of power that has been built by Alexander Lukashenko for over two decades.