Reliable data on civic activism, on attitude towards civil organizations and initiatives, on readiness to participate in their activities is an essential element in the development of strategies, action plans and project proposals of public organizations and civic initiatives.
Baltic Internet Policy Initiative / The Office for European Expertise and Communications
Belarusian pro-democracy actors have already established their presence online. The next step is to use their online venues in order to effectively consolidate agents of democratic change. The Internet , and new ICTs in general are seen as tools for circumventing authoritarian state pressures and surmounting communication cleavage as they allow it allows to significantly reduce the costs associated with political communication generate new ways of interactions between individuals, which in turn produce qualitative effects on political activism.
The use of the Internet as a news source has increased in Belarus during the recent years. Meanwhile, in spite of the new possibilities opened up by online tools and technologies, Belarusian online media seem to have based their strategies on traditional journalism techniques.
During the past few years most government agencies in Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania have established a public face online, and developed eGovernment related programs. Governments in these three countries are reconfiguring their activities and services in order to make use of the opportunities provided by the Internet and new information and communication technologies (ICTs).
e-belarus.ORG has recently conducted a survey of Belarusian online news sources. The survey was carried out within the month period (January 6 - February 6, 2006). 10 websites have been selected to represent various styles and approaches to online strategies, as well as different political attitudes. The major quantitative criterion was the average number of visitors per day.
During the past few years eGov related programs have been developed in Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania. Governments in the three countries are reconfiguring their activities in order to make use of the opportunities provided by the internet and ICTs. At the same time, civil society organizations have tended to devote their attention and resources to questions of connectivity, access and community development rather than to the matter of participation in eGov programming. As a result, they lack information about the development of eGov strategies and about who exactly is and could be involved at the planning stages. As long as civil society actors do not participate actively in eGov programming, it does not effectively serve its purpose - to improve communication among government, citizens, and parliament.
More and more often citizens and citizen groups directly interact with government, participate in the process of policy, although formation or administration, the actual and final decisions remain in the hands of government elites. Since these practices differ from representative and direct democracy mechanisms, some theorists argue that we witness emergence of a new "advocacy democracy".
Inspired by India's success, a number of nations, including Eastern Europe, have recently started looking for their niche in the IT outsourcing arena. Since the 1980's the city of Minsk in Belarus has had sister city arrangements with Bangalore, a major center of Indian outsourcing. Now Belarus, the former Soviet republic landlocked between Poland and Russia, is coming into its own as an IT outsourcing location.