The second reason
to think about reforms: if not now, when?
We need to have a clear idea of what sort of Belarus we want now, before a new window of opportunity opens, as we’re unlikely to have the luxury of methodologically drawing up a reform agenda amidst another political crisis. Furthermore, it’s completely possible that the next head of state will be someone completely accidental. And even if they’re not, they still won’t have an answer for everything. Therefore, the more qualitative and quantitative material society can produce and pass on to this random or not-so-random person, the better the eventual results. The third reason
to think about reforms now: they are inevitable anyway.
Lukashenka’s system as a model for development has exhausted itself. The size of Belarus’s economy in 2023 is the same as it was a decade ago, rule of law has imploded, and foreign policy—like the entire country—is ultra-dependent on Russia. Belarus may remain frozen in this state for years to come, but any type of exit from the status quo will involve transformation.
The Center for New Ideas, together with Zerkalo
, launched the cycle “Rough Draft for Reforming Belarus” in December of 2022 in order to explain what challenges Belarus faces and what can be done about them. As of the end of May, we have published 10 pieces on our site in three languages: Belarusian, Russian, and English.
As the word “draft” implies, this project does not presume to be scripture. As Ihnat Abdziralovič wrote 100 years ago, “Silly boy, do you really think there are clear paths to follow in life?” As such, our task is merely to propose ideas for Belarus and foster discussion about what kinds of changes are needed in the future.
For this cycle, the authors did not consult with each other on individual pieces’ content. Each piece is about 1,000–1,200 words; the first half of the text is usually dedicated to outlining a challenge Belarus needs to overcome, while the second addresses what can be done about it.
Our “Rough Draft” demystifies the concept of reform. As Belarusian economist Pavel Daneyko often says
, today’s Belarus shouldn’t be understood by looking back at the transformations that took place in Eastern Europe in the ‘90s. Belarus is far less socialist, and Belarusians are far less paternalistic.