Belarusian Yearbook 2022 presents a comprehensive analysis of developments in the key segments of the state and society in the year 2021, which served as a transition from the political crisis of 2020 in Belarus toward the global security crisis of 2022 in the region. The forced landing of the Ryanair aircraft at the Minsk airport and artificial migration crisis on the border with Poland and Lithuania, the de facto war with civil society and “foreign trade miracle”, the regime’s counterrevolution and social polarization, relocation of social activists and business — these are the factors that shaped the sociopolitical agenda of the period under review.
Main trends of the year:
- escalation of the political crisis on the back of initiatives undertaken by the Belarusian authorities and loss of control over that escalation, which led to unprecedented harsh sanctions imposed by Western countries;
- transformation of the Belarusian political meltdown from a predominantly internal development to a regional crisis, which constitutes a direct threat to other countries, mostly neighbors;
- ostentatious approximation with Moscow in the military sphere, the marked emphasis on the militarization of relations with a clear prospect of Belarus turning into a military and strategic platform for Russia;
- increased weight of security officials at all levels of the political system. The Security Council has strengthened its influence, including as Lukashenka’s political headquarters, and entered into a nomenklatura competition with the leadership of the Council of the Republic and the government. Increasing numbers of civilian executive positions in the government and local authorities are filled by former members of the security services;
- growing securitization of education, regular repressions of independent culture, which, combined with the reprisal against public organizations, can be referred to as internal occupation;
- destruction of the legal framework for the operation of uncontrollable civil society organizations in Belarus, as well as redoubled activities of state-controlled pseudo-NGOs. However, this hardly breaks the pattern of public sympathies: independent civil society organizations retain public support, whereas independent human rights organizations and independent trade unions still top the trust list of all Belarusian institutions;
- a surge of economic growth in the wake of the “foreign trade miracle” — extremely favorable terms of trade caused by the growth in demand and prices resulting from situational factors beyond Belarus’s control. However, accelerating inflation and institutional setback, dramatic deterioration of the environment for long-term growth combined with the lagged effects of the sanctions will eventually outweigh the “foreign trade miracle”.
Since 2003, the Belarusian Yearbook project has evolved as a joint endeavor of the Belarusian expert community to compile, conceptualize, and deliver a chronicle of Belarus’s contemporary history. Contributing to Belarusian Yearbook 2022 were independent analysts and experts, as well as specialists representing various think tanks, including Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), Center for New Ideas, Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC), Belarusian Institute for Public Administration Reform and Transformation (BIPART), School of Young Managers in Public Administration (SYMPA), Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, Ostrogorski Centre, Belarus Security Blog analytical project, Institute of International Relations (Warsaw, Poland), European Humanities University (Vilnius), Agency for Social and Political Expert Appraisal (Vilnius), Ejednevnik newspaper (ej.by) and the Belarusian expert network NASHE MNENIE (‘OUR OPINION’).