Diplomacy professor publishes Belarus’ issues book

Seton Hall diplomacy professor, Dr. Margarita Balmaceda, has recently published a book called “Living the High Life in Minsk: Russian Energy Rents, Domestic Populism and Belarus’ Impending Crisis,” which deals with a variety of issues occurring in Belarus.

“This book deals with two large questions which we often encounter with international relations,” said Balmaceda. “One question is how less powerful countries manage their relationship with their more powerful allies. The second topic is how authoritarian regimes stay in power.”

Her book shows how the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, uses the energy policy “as a means to manage their more powerful ally, Russia, and uses it to maintain popular support within the regime,” said Balmaceda.

It took Balmaceda five years to write this book and she was intrigued by issues dealing with energy and politics in the former Soviet Union since the late 1990’s.

The book was published in 2014 and Balmaceda has also written three other books about the topic, being that the issue was of high importance to her. She became interested in the issue when she realized energy was key in understanding relations between Ukraine and Russia.

“Energy was not something you could simply understand by looking at the outside,” said Balmaceda. “You need to look inside the black box of energy politics and look at the array of actors regarding the issue.”

During our interview, Balmaceda made it clear that the issue of energy politics in Europe is not easy to understand or write about and she is one of the first people to do so. Her book deals with a country that many people ignore because it is an authoritarian state and many people think it’s impossible to do field research in Belarus because of that.

The book shows that it is possible to do research in the country because Balmaceda visited the country and wrote a whole book on it.

Her book is $45.00 and can be found online or at any major bookstore.

Balmaceda is not of Russian descent, but she did study Russian and became fluent in the language swiftly. She is also fluent in Ukrainian and Hungarian. Balmaceda teaches four classes at SHU within the diplomacy and political science fields and many of them deal with Post-Soviet issues. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses.

Shaygne Rodriguez can be reached at shaygne.rodriguez@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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