Support for Belarusian youth activists : cooperation or co-optation? prospects for democratization in Belarus
Forbes, Ekaterina Mozolevskaya.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The process of transition in post-Soviet Belarus is caught between two opposing forces: nostalgia for the past on the one hand, and young people with no such nostalgia on the other. Contemporary youth began their socialization under Gorbachev, so consequently had only limited exposure to Soviet communism (Titarenko 2009, 413). Over the past 20 years, different currents of youth activism has simultaneously supported and challenged Belarus' political regime. Belarus in many ways has been swallowed by neighboring Russia. Despite almost 20 years of independence, it retains a Soviet mentality clinging to the past, with a national culture (until recently) that is suppressed by the regime's Russification policies. The resulting neo-Soviet mentality, monolithic culture and presidential corporatism, do not permit space for public discussion, let alone youth activism, in the search for policy solutions or to building compromise.; This paper analyzes the complicated relationship between youth in Belarus, Western donors and the Lukashenko regime. Because of the complex funding policies of Western donors and the tenuous financial position of youth groups in Belarus, donors exercise immense influence over the organizations that they fund. While it would be difficult for these groups to function unaffected by the policies of both western donors and the regime, I will explore to what degree donors and the regime have created artificial incentives for the groups to function. The donor community and the regime have, to a significant extent, created artificial youth movements that lack genuine impetus and support from youth. In order to overcome this phenomenon, I will propose solutions and recommendations to the Western donors and major players, such as the European Union and the United States, on future funding strategies for Belarusian youth movement and the Lukashenka regime.; In order to understand the effectiveness, the activism, and the motivation of youth movements in Belarus, it is necessary to evaluate the political culture in which these groups have evolved and have been functioning. This paper is composed of four chapters that examine various aspects of this issue. The first chapter focuses on the political and cultural developments that took place in, and affected, Belarus during and after the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The second examines pro-regime organizations in Belarus, focusing primarily on pro-Lukashenko youth movements and evaluates its funding and support. The third chapter looks at the structure and relations of the pro-democratic youth movements in Belarus, and their affiliations with pro-democratic institutions both at home and abroad, in order to investigate the possibility of cooptation versus cooperation. The fourth chapter evaluates whether the donor - recipient relationship has the potential to compromise the idea of democracy, since when money and politics are combined it represents a lethal concoction with the risks of those having money interests exercising undue influence over the recipient. At the same time, delineates current trends and extrapolates the impact of a variety of policies that could be adopted by the international community vis-à-vis Belarus as prospects for democratization in Belarus.
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