The Trajectory of Belarus: From Popular Protests to International Provocations

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Belarus is in the media spotlight for its weaponization of the migrant crisis at the Belarus-Poland border, triggering broad European criticisms that add to the wave of critiques and sanctions that followed the forced landing of Ryanair Flight 4978 and subsequent arrest of opposition activist Roman Protasevich. Minsk seems to have decided to play the role of spoiler on the international scene, which can be seen as a response to the deep crisis of political legitimacy that followed the protests of 2020 and the rise of a new opposition movement, both at home and abroad. Belarus' "in-between" status has deeper roots in terms of its national identity, language policy, and economic relations with both Russia and Europe. Join us to discuss the trajectory of Belarus with Arkady Moshes, Natalya Chernyshova, Yuliya Brel-Fournier, and Marlene Laruelle.


Dr. Arkady Moshes is Program Director for the EU Eastern Neighborhood and Russia research program and a member of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia) at George Washington University. He was an Associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House from 2008 to 2015 and since 2017 has been a member of the EU-Russia Expert Network (EUREN). He has been a visiting scholar at the Danish Institute of International Affairs (2002) and the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Elliott School of International Relations, George Washington University (2016), a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2007) and a regular guest lecturer at the NATO Defence College (2005-10, 2013-15) and Geneva Center for Security Policy (1998-2021). His areas of expertise include Russian foreign policy, European-Russian relations as well as internal and foreign policy of Ukraine and Belarus.

Dr. Natalya Chernyshova is Senior Lecture in Modern History at the University of Winchester, UK. She has published on late Soviet social history, including the monograph Soviet Consumer Culture in the Brezhnev Era (Routledge 2013, paperback 2015) and on Belarusian history. She has also written and given talks on the 2020 Belarusian protests. She is currently writing a biography of Petr Masherau, the popular communist leader of Soviet Belarus during 1965-1980, a research project funded by the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship.

Dr. Yuliya Brel-Fournier is an assistant policy scientist at the Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research at the University of Delaware. She holds Master’s and PhD degrees in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware, and a Master’s degree in linguistics from Minsk State Linguistic University in Belarus. Her research interests concentrate on the problems of transition from authoritarianism to democracy in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and the former Soviet republics, modern dictatorships, democratic governance, and the role of civil society in the process of transition to democracy and its subsequent consolidation.


Dr. Marlene Laruelle is Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies; Director of the Central Asia Program; Director of the Illiberalism Studies Program; Co-Director of PONARS Eurasia; and Research Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University. She works on political, social, and cultural changes in the post-Soviet space. Dr. Laruelle's research explores the transformations of nationalist and conservative ideologies in Russia, nationhood construction in Central Asia, as well as the development of Russia's Arctic regions.

This event is on the record and open to the media.